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October 22, 2007


Zac Echola

Excellent post!

I'm a big fan of opening up lectures to the public (I wish more schools did this), but let me tell you something about online courses:

They're for suckers and rubes, often costing more than actually showing up to the course. Too often they're taught by adjuncts and other 'lesser' professors. And the software online courses are built with sucks. Hard.

As for a college degree being worth something, let me tell you a what I thought was a well known fact about our current higher education system: An idiot with a degree is still an idiot. And colleges pass a lot more idiots than they do decent, knowledgable workers. Degrees are, in fact, worthless.

Just watch the videos to see how out of touch academia is with the rest of the working world.


I am a true sucker of your writing. Maybe I should have attented more lit lectures myself :)

Gary Gil

Great post! Yes, video, podcasting and other social media technologies will continue to transform higher education. And yes, these technologies can and will enable universities to increase enrollment and overcome the widespread problem of "impacted programs". But... the challenge for those of us in the online teaching and learning space is to get academia to embrace this new way of teaching and learning, despite the obvious financial and academic advantages. It is a HUGE challenge that I am intimately familiar with and this trend toward embracing YouTube, iTunes U and Podclass is very encouraging.

Gary Gil
Founder & CEO


Here - Here to 'the torturous branding exercise'! At some point in the next decade, these post-secondary 'brands' are going to be overtaken by new virtual college alternative brands that are recognized as valid by employers - the massive wealth transfer from families to academia will cease and college as we know it will be an anachronism. Just another unassailable industry completely disintermediated by the web.... Hopefully before my 8 year old hits his Jr. year.

Randy Kirk

There was also a video series a few years back that offered full videos of each class at the major universities -- so for example, English Literature at Brown University, Intro to Chemistry at University of Cal, Berkeley, etc for a moderate costs -- a couple hundred dollars. They turned out to be not that popular, since they were so (honestly speaking) boring.

I tried to watch the Brown University Intro to English Literature -- after spending a couple $100's on a multi-volume set, and it become clear that the prof, distinguished as he may be, wasn't a good public speaker. It seems to me to expose some facts about universities -- first off, the profs are mainly selected and interested in research, not teaching. Second, let's face facts here, the profs generally aren't good public speakers and they are boring -- I would say this is a major contributor to the fact that the amount of actual learning going on isn't a great deal -- studies on amount of knowledge retained is about 10% after a course for students. The format of University teaching methods comes under review here -- meaning, how do you learn, for example, Chemistry at a University. 3 2 hour boring lectures a week, read mainly 1 textbook, 1 4 hour lab period a week. People watch that lecture on video and can't pay attention. There should be a better way - more varied reading material, more varied video and speaking presentation.

Stephen Kinsella

Nice article.

I'm an academic, and I thought of this exact thing over the summer, then realised it was part of a bad Val Kilmer movie years ago called Real Genius ( ), where they are so smart they just pay someone to drop their tape recorders onto the lecture halls seats and listen to the lectures all a row, in bed, later. The joke runs on through the movie, with the number of tape recorders in seats increasing. Eventually, the professor gets smart, and it's just a tape recorder talking to a load of other tape recorders.

One day, I will live that dream. One day.

Lucas DuVal

B-School INSEAD forays into Second Life. Not sure if they're actually using it for teaching yet. The TechTicker is great Andy, I've been looking forward to it since your visit to USC last fall.


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