Why people prefer bad online education

How good is on-line-education, actually? Will it change the name of the game on how education at this moment is done, or not? Well, here is an example and a simple way to see it. But hold on to your hat, because it is about customer/student preferences. It is not about you as a teacher.

Khan Academy is an interesting phenomenon in the world of on-line-education. The reason for them in particular being of interest is, that their service tend to be used. They have also been around for some time, actually already since 2008. It is probably no coincidence that they started of by the founder helping the son of his sister, back in India, to start learning math by himself.

Of course one might debate, if you like, if Khan is a great service, or not. Me, workning myself at a university, meeting lot of interesting professors in different fields, Math included, might not find them to be that great. Khan is, more or less, just “simple video-clips”. Particularly you find lot of courses they run in the field of mathematics. But they are definitely not like the professors in Mathematics I happen to know.

As far as I understand Kahn Academy, their intent on the other hand is not to deliver Mathematics on PhD-level. Instead they seem to be heading for undergrad-education, even on K12-level. But still, they tend to be used by a lot of university-students. At least; I know that a decent amount of students at my own university use Kahn Academy, like for instance when taking a basic course in Algebra. Actually lot of university students all over the globe already use them, eventhough they might not admit that they do if you asked them about it (would you tell me if you did use them at the same time as you are enrolled into a university course in Algebra?).

But then how come Kahn Academy, with these simple “videos”, are actually used?

What we easily forget is that quality is in the eyes of the beholder. Quality is never “owned” by the supplier. IKEA therefor do not own their own brand. They might own their own trademark, but that is something else. The brand of IKEA is owned by their customers. It is them that decides if IKEA delivers good quality, or not – not us.

Then why do university students at this moment use Khan Academy when there at the same time are University-professors available off-line, in real life, if they just got up from their own beds and went to their own university?

Could it be that saving time from travelling, and being able to study back home in your own bed, are reasons strong enough for sometimes heading for online-learning, even though better services might exist just around the corner? Could it also be that a young generation of people already have started to develop new kind of preferences when evaluating education? Could it then even be that also people in my age are changing their preferences quite soon? Or, have also we acturally already done it? Or, will some of us never change?

We easily forget, but there are still people prefering vinyl-records, even though streaming services for music now is around. At this moment doing a classical C30-tape for your songs can even be really interesting to do, if you are a musican and wants to be unusally cool towards your audience. Of course there is a small revival on tapes at this moment in the music industry, just so you know (it was actually to be expected).

But…how many of us do actually prefer to listen to music on tape nowadays? And could it actually be worth trying to figure out how the specific students/customers we expect to enroll in a course really value their time and their space nowadays?

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