Another business idea. Do you know fiver.com? It’s a website where anyone can sell and buy anything for $5. It’s a completely decentralised business model done on the cheap, which encourages innovation and also efficiency. How does this business model contrast with that used by universities? Universities use expert teachers, trained over many years, and recruited by a standard appointment process. For your standard degrees it is right that this is so. But doesn’t this leave a gap in the market? What about all the local knowledge that’s being lost, particularly in rapidly developing countries. And what about all the people with a passion for teaching their subject area who might have some time free, but not want to pursue a life long career in academia?
A Life University would merge the standard educational model, with the decentralised model used by fiver.com. Anyone who wanted to create their own profile as a teacher or consultant could do so on this site, specifying what they have to teach, how much time they have and what money they would be prepared to accept. And then whenever someone comes on looking for knowledge in a certain area, they would know longer simply have to search the internet for the relevant information. They could instead go to the Life University’s website and key in:
I want to learn……………
I’m prepared to pay……………….
I have this much time…………………
Further details e.g. preference for face to face, one on one, internet etc………..
After having keyed in these basic details the website would pull up a list of teachers and consultants who fit the search criteria, and the searcher could then pay one of these people to teach them. The administrators of the site would ensure that a good service is given. The Life University would hold the money until the course/class was delivered, and if the teacher/consultant doesn’t respond more than twice in a row they will be taken off the site.
What do you think? Have you heard of anything like this having already been set up?
Your main disadvantage here is that the Khan academy are doing for free already (http://www.khanacademy.org/). The advantage you have is that you are offering teaching, rather than just learn yourself.
So you would need to establish the extent to which people want and are prepared to pay for teaching.
This could actually be quite an interesting and worthwhile piece of research in itself, since it would seek to ascertain the ‘value’ of teaching over pure information access.
Interesting link. Thanks Mark. Yes it would certainly make interesting reading that research. It’s something I’ll keep in mind for when I have a little more time.