studibit, MOOCs, and the Disruption of BIG UNIVERSTY
online education’s next-generation on-demand, self-curated textbook
Online education is not only here to stay, but it is growing so fast that it is forcing massive disruption across BIG UNIVERSITY campuses worldwide because:
- Big University budgets are under pressure exacerbated by failing state budgets
- the cost of traditional university education is pricing itself out of the market
- the debt that students and their families are carrying is destructive and not sustainable
- MOOCs are cost-efficiently scalable on a massive global scale
- corporations are increasingly valuing “verifiable skills” when assessing new employees
High-demand MOOCs can attract anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 global students or more to register for a course and this is only going to grow as more and more hiring corporations value “skills verification” which can be very cost-effectively obtained via these MOOCs. The number of registered students for a given course is driven by the brand name of the professor, the university, and the topic’s perceived valuation by employers. Any topic that adds to a student’s “verified skills,” builds credits toward a degree, and ultimately leads to a good-paying job will be in high demand.
On platforms such as Coursera the student is able to take the course for free (so far), so the marginal cost to pay a modest amount for some digital and/or Print-on-Demand (POD) publications is something many students will pay for. Each MOOC attracts a massive captive market of students ready to purchase on-demand class materials from any mobile device with an Internet connection anywhere in the world.
Coursera courses attract tens of thousands of students worldwide to register for just one course. The list of partner universities is quite impressive and others are rapidly jumping on this bandwagon: https://www.coursera.org/about/partners
Here’s a link to a typical course with the topic of “cloud computing concepts”: https://www.coursera.org/course/cloudcomputing
The course is free but a student can earn a “Verified Certificate,” and the course is part of a series of courses in cloud computing. Currently no textbook is required. This will change, however, because both the instructors and the students would value the option to have downloadable and/or print-on-demand hardcopy class materials (even a textbook).
The “Verified Certificate” is one way Coursera and its partner institutions can monetize the course. The “cloud computing concept” certificate is $49. To offer the option of downloading ePUBs and/or POD course materials would be a second way of monetizing. To further add value to this proposition for the student, Coursera and its partners could give students more control over the content, length, and format of the class materials they want. studibit proposes to give the student the power of self-curation.
The classic hardcover, full-color, 600-age textbook is a communication medium which is in the midst of disruption (and eventual obsolescence?), and there are several reasons why:
- Knowledge is no longer static (excepting basic physics, etc.). Knowledge will forever be dynamic and it is being modified, added to, leapfrogged, and obsoleted at an accelerating pace. This means a static or “fixed-content” textbook needs updating the day the textbook is printed.
- It is now possible to access all knowledge from any mobile device, anywhere, any time.
- Students don’t really need to carry in their backpacks a fairly heavy 600-page textbook at the moment they are studying a particular piece of content (chapter). When a student is studying a 10-page section of a 600-page textbook, the other 590 pages are generally of no use at that moment. And it’s safe to say that some portion of the content of the remaining 590 pages is already in need of modification and updating.
The solution to this is the “studibit,” a browser extension that allows the student to self-curate any amount of content from an online textbook at any moment in time from any mobile device, which they can choose to either: (a) download as a secure PDF file; and/or (b) print-on-demand (POD) a bound hardcopy document.
Studibit will only work on content from participating online content licensors. In most cases the student will create a studibit of the pages (or chapter) they are currently studying. With studibit the student can simply click and highlight content of their choosing, and then studibit will:
- automatically stitch together the highlighted sections into one document;
- automatically paginate, insert a table of contents, and a cover page;
- automatically configure the size format (e.g., 6”x9” or 8-1/2” x 11”) and binding (e.g., perfect bound, saddle stitch, spiral bound) based on the number of pages and embedded images and graphics
- automatically e-mail a DRM-secured ePUB file with a pre-specified number of printable copies; and/or,
- automatically ship a POD bound booklet-to-book in 2 days or less
studibit does not intend to completely replace the traditional textbook. The full textbook will always be available online, and full hardcover textbooks will always be printed and available based on demand. Studibit supplements the traditional full textbook by enabling students to download and/or POD that section of the textbook they are currently studying which they can conveniently carry around in hardcopy form for highlighting, doodling, and annotating text, because this is proven to be an important part of the learning and memorizing process that can’t be replicated on a monitor. Each studibit will be a consumable content item and once the content is read and the student has mastered the material and been tested on it, the student will most likely archive the studibit as they generally would for traditional class notes.
The per-page cost to the student would be cents/page similar to what a student would pay to have copies made at a library or print shop. This payment would be split between studibit and the content licensor.
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Instead of saving $100K-$200K per kid to go to college, start teaching them how to master the skills of the lifetime online learner:
- How to master independent study and research
- How to master using the computer, software, and mobile devices
- How to create and exploit one’s personal and professional networks
- How to supplement online learning with daily engagement in the real world
- How to achieve a healthy balance between the virtual and real worlds
- How to survive and thrive in a rapidly disrupting world with new rules
- How to define success for yourself, not by others
My neighbor is a professor in computer science and he is developing a new Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) and I’m going to meet with him to find out what kind of ePUBS and/or POD documents he wants to offer students. The crazy thing about these Coursera courses is they get sometimes over 30,000 students worldwide that register for just one course. Take a look at the universities and other organizations that are jumping on this bandwagon: https://www.coursera.org/about/partners
Here’s a link to a course in “cloud computing concepts”: https://www.coursera.org/course/cloudcomputing. The course is free but you can earn a “Verified Certificate” which is part of a series of courses in cloud computing. It says that no textbook is required.
I think some of these instructors wouldn’t mind giving the global student the option of downloading some ePUBS and/or Print-on-Demand (POD) class notes and/or textbook. Many students still like to have a hard copy of something which they can carry around and annotate and doodle on.
The exciting thing about this is that each course can attract anywhere from 5,000 to 50,000 students or more to register from across the world, and this is only going to grow as more and more hiring corporations value “skills verification” which can very cost-effectively be obtained via these MOOCs. The number of registered students is driven by the brand name of the professor and the demand for the particular topic. Clearly any topic that adds to a student’s “verified skills,” builds credits toward a degree, and ultimately leads to a good-paying job will be in high demand. Since the student is already able to take the course for free, the marginal cost to pay a modest amount for some E and/or POD publications is something many students would opt in for (i.e., pay for). So you have this massive captive market of students for each course, and right now it looks like there’s really no cloud-based platform for them to get course-related materials.
The “Verified Certificate” is one way they (Coursera and partner institutions) monetize the course. The cloud computing concept certificate is $49. Downloaded E and/or POD course materials would be a second way of monetizing.
Another interesting development is the “Amazon Campus” just announced: http://www.amazon.com/gp/campus/info.