When I was a young student in India, formal education consisted of buying textbooks, listening to lectures, attending the science lab, and possibly reading a few books and articles from the library.
(In addition to formal education I bought and read books on virtually every topic under the sun, and perhaps learnt more from this process than from my formal education.)
While books will remain the staple of education, education is no longer chained to the lecture room.
The old model doesn't work well, anyway. Over time my rate of attrition of acquired formal knowledge has accelerated. Of what I knew about physics in my BSc final year in 1979 I recall at best about 60 per cent of the concepts and less than 20 per cent of the details. Even in economics which I studied as late as in 1996, more than half the details have disappeared from my head.
If any other product acquired at such high cost performed so poorly, we would sue the manufacturer.
But imagine if one could instantly retrieve (online) the original lectures of 1978 on the internet. That would boost my mind's recall, and clarify/ reinforce concepts about which I may have now – over the years – developed some doubts.
And this qualitative improvement in the educational product is what video technology is bringing. It is already happening with key lectures being recorded by good Western universities and uploaded online.
This has to be done only once: not for each "batch" of students. One lecture by an Albert Einstein on the special theory of relativity would be all he would need to deliver in his entire life. And no other human would need to teach this topic ever again. For millions of years.
In addition, simulation and video demonstrations can dramatically enrich the learning experience. One can demonstrate the details of complex science experiments or techniques without having access to an advanced lab.
All this will revolutionse education. For instance, students:
- would no longer need to make detailed notes, but pay more attention to the lecture itself – thus increasing content absorption
- who miss a lecture could review the lecture later
- could watch the lectures online before their exams (and fast- forward sections they don’t need)
- could retrieve a specific lecture of interest to them during their later professional career, thus significantly strengthening their learning (and increasing the durability of education)
And students would no longer need to spend the time and effort to go to a university to listen to a lecture in the first place.
An education revolution is being wrought right before our eyes. Education is now restricted only by one’s imagination. Humans will be able to learn faster and FAR MORE in the coming years as a result of this revolution.
Brick and mortar universities will disappear. Or change beyond recognition.
But more on this later.
If you found this post useful, then consider subscribing to my blog by email: