Traffic is King, Content is King Kong

Ny bild (45)Who wins the E-learning-race? The ones making students to come or the ones making them stay?

During late years of the internet-boom in the 1990s the following saying became popular: “Traffic is king”. It was most often used in order to defend the idea of a new web service and how it was supposed to create value. Value was measured in terms of clicks, visits or registered members on a site. For some time that was the main driving force to some newcomers. The idea was simple: the more visitors on a site the higher value.

After the crash there was another saying that became popular: “Content is King Kong”. It was used as a joke compared to the previous saying, but also in order to tell us something. Lot of people claimed that the early days of Internet never really created value. New members on a site never came back. Counting clicks was not the same as really seeing or reading what was behind. Collecting traffic was not the same thing as creating value. Lot of people started to claim that in the end of the day you had to have content on your website, and that content was the big customer value. In some sense this seem reasonable. Of course there must be content.

Putting these sayings into today’s situation of E-learning: it could easily be that these “early days of E-learning” get stuck with the idea of creating huge amounts of traffic. It is like “My MOOC do have 1 542 367 students enrolled – that’s cool right?” In some cases there seem to be a battle like that ongoing (nice that no-one, yet, have calculated al possible existing students on the globe and compared it to al existing people registered at a MOOCs at this time – there might be more people that exist on the globe soon). Lot of actors primarily seems to strive to get volume.

Considering that idea: I thought it was nice noticing what Google did jointly with Kahn Academy and YouTube last year. They announced a contest for new forms of education on You Tube. They start they where searching for the “Next Edu Gurus”. First I did think that this was a great idea. Later on I have developed some doubts that I would like to share.

But before talking about that. Well, what did come out of it? Find out for yourself. More than 1000 creators applied and here are the winners

They where worth time watching, right? Of course they where. Great people, most likely also great teachers.

However, at the same time it does not stop me from saluting one of the winners, Amor Sciendi, who is really worth observing. This guy has obviously thought about new ways of learning. Take a look at this clip where he uses art in order to teach math (or was it the other way around?). He is really worth observing.

But…my guess is that he is even better offline than online. I would gladly sit in his class. Maybe even going to a museum with him so hi could point at different parts of the paintings he uses. That would be far cooler than watching him on You Tube.

By the way: I guess here is also one reason for why these Edu Gurus don’t seem to have got that many visitors on You Tube as one might expect (a couple of thousands per person). They are probably extremely good in what they are doing – but the media and the way they used (implicitly defined already by You Tube) it do probably not give anything more than what they already are able to do in their classrooms. So, maybe: You Tube is not good enough for them (not the other way around!). It is not they not being good enough for You Tube.

But of course if they are on You Tube they more easy get more people attending – digitally as well as physically – than if they only do their teaching offline.

So where is the winner? Is it content or traffic that matters in E-learning? Or to put it in this way: How to be able to divide between content and traffic?

I guess that in the end of the day the winner is the one that manages both sides of the coin. Actually it is quite difficult to tell what is traffic and what is content. And maybe that is one of the most interesting things with the web. There is an option of mixing them.

But I am not sure if You Tube is the right tool for it. And here is a reason why I don’t think You Tube ever will be a big thing compared to “Education”. Education is bigger than the media.

But at the same time of course: You Tube will become, and already is, a great media if you have scarce recourses and want to create and be able to spread globally a grate TV-program. And it could also, which is already happening, be used in order to create a digital copy of my off-line-lecture, so my students and me can save time. Like “doing offline, but online”. Me in terms of doing that performance once, record it and then just rewind it, and the students in terms of no need attending in class.

I think that if Google and Kahn Academy join up with You Tube and use resources in order to find the next Edu Gurus and at the same time have the intent of messing up with the traditional school system, then they can do far better than this. Otherwise they will definitely not shake the system around way they seem to be wanting. Or someone else will, because the options to do it are already here.

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