Assume I claimed that Spotify already is in the E-learning-business. How about Starbucks? Then, how to use the fact that they actually already are, in order to do better e-learning? How to use it in order to understand how the Ed-industry is already developing? Frank Zappa, and a cup of coffee, give us the answers.
Frank Zappa ones said: ”If you want to get laid, go to university. If you want an education, go to a library”.
It is a provocative quote. But the musician Frank Zappa was also provocative. Are we to be surprised he got well-known during the hippie-60´s in USA because of his music?
At the same time; Zappa touches on something worth some serious reflection. Education is, and have always been, something more than its pure “content”.
What is then that “something more”?
Why do we actually take a certain course, or head for a certain conference? In order to get, not only some interesting content, but maybe also in order to get off from work for a while perhaps?
How come, for instance, University of Hawaii seem to have become rather successful in hosting so many interesting global academic conferences?
If you have not been to a university during the last 10 years it could be of interest to visit for instance my own university, and its library. Meaning: did what Zappa suggested
If you did, you would probably not be surprised, but reality is that the library is somewhat empty nowadays. Students get access to it via a digital portal instead, so why go there physically?
On the other hand; the coffee-shop, just outside the library, is very full, fairly often even overcrowded.
Why do students go for the coffee-shop instead of the library? Better chairs, maybe. Better tables, maybe. And; It is ok to speak fairly loudly at a coffee-shop. People that meet each other seem to prefer talking to each other. They also serve better coffe in the coffe-shop than the library does. The library does not serve coffee at all.
At most libraries you are asked to be a bit quite. Maybe great for individual work, but not neccesarily a great place for a meeting.
An obvious side-note is worth mentioning: What kind of facilitates will be the most important ones for a university, or a conference-center, in the future? Or: already now? The library is not as important as its ones was (indicating that the Zappa quote is actually rather old, already, on the other hand. So, maybe try Google instead). The coffee-shop on the other hand might be extremely important. Most deans all over the globe already know this, and already struggle hard to come up with a reason for university-buildings to remain in the future. Most likely also several conference-centers do that. If they do not find the answer, it´s very likely they will end up in trouble.
Buildings, as such, rarely have a meaning by themselves (except, maybe, for Architects). Buildings are used for something. At least that is the reason why the ones was built.
During the last years my own university have changed the chairs and tables somewhat in the big library, making it into a better place to sit and study compared to before. Needed.
But will that be enough to keep it open in just a couple of years?
Should we stop calling it a “library” then already now?
Why call a coffe-shop a “coffe-shop” by the way?
Have you noticed that some teachers that at this moment are giving courses on a MOOC-platform, like for instance Coursera, FutureLearn, Edx, or Xuetang or whatever, during the last years have stumbled on “MeetUp“?
MeetUp is one of these digital services existing today that you can use in order to set up a meeting, or host an event. They started already 2002 and have become really big. MeetUp is popular to use among start-up-people, like when for instance announcing a hackathon.
Some of these teachers announce their own traveling-plans within their own MOOC-courses with the help of MeetUp. It becomes like;
“Hey all you digital students taking my course at this moment. Next week I am going to be in Stockholm for three days, or maybe Mumbai, or Sao Paolo. If you are interested in meeting not only here digitally but in real life, why not? Sign up here on MeetUp so I know if you are coming. I have a couple of hours over and would gladly meet at for instance Starbucks”.
Some teachers also already get a lot of students to sign up for such kind of event.
Next time you pass by a Starbucks-coffee-shop; How about checking if there already is an internationally interesting scholar sitting there having a chat, or maybe a mini-seminar, with some of these digital students?
Who said that online-education could not lead to interesting off-line-education? Who said that competition to our own given off-line-education is not already outside our own door? Who said that Starbuck themselves, at this very moment, is not setting up a “university” of their own?
Could it even be Starbucks occasionally play great songs by Frank Zappa, and we can learn something useful from that when developing our own E-learning-courses?
Who even said that your own course not could be a playlist on Spotify and used by the students when they drink coffee at Starbucks?