Some years after Google Play and AppStore was created huge amounts of apps was created. Some good, others terrible. It does not look like that anymore. The ones remaining have often become great. And; a lot of them are also very profitable. Here is the reason why the same thing will happen in the e-learning-space.
How many e-learning courses exist on the globe, right now? Thousands? Millions? No-one actually knows. But we can at least know, for example, that a large university may have a few thousands of courses.
And we also can know that a MOOC of the type Coursera is likely to have at least about 2000 courses.
Then add actors like Edx, FutureLearn, Udacity, OpenEdu, Xuetang, LinkedIn Learning (former Lyndia), NPTEL, Edraak, Miriada etc (it could become a long list here, and yes; we can debate what actors that actually should be called a MOOC or not, but that is besides the point here).
A reasonable guess can be that in any case the MOOC world has at least 10,000 courses. And that is only the MOOCs. The world of E-learning is far bigger than the sum of all MOOCs.
But if you look at one of the MOOC platforms, one can conclude that in many cases; a dozen “duplicates” can be found. Then add the other MOOCs and get, maybe 50 “duplicates”.
What do we know about the Corona-effect? We know that the whole world of E-learning has jumped a few steps forward. We know that the number of digital courses available online has increased significantly. Nearly all universities have for instance gone digital. At this moment thousands and thousands of more courses have become digital. Some might have been made in haste, maybe this past week.
Of course, some E-learning-courses are poor. Just like it always have existed poor courses from time to time IRL.
We also know that a lot of people that at this very moment happen to stumble on E-learning for the first time, and happen to stumble on one of these poor courses, will draw the conclusion that e-learning is terrible. But then they are missing the point.
It is not about how it is at this very moment. It is about how it will be in just a couple of years ahead.
The thing is this…
We also know that there are e-learning courses that are quite good at this very moment. Maybe not great. But at least good enough. We also know that some of their students find value in taking certificates. They are happy to pay for a diploma.
In the MOOC world, there are, already today, digital courses that have upwards, or even more than, one million students. On average, not many pay for a certificate, but it is enough that maybe 5% of one million students paying $ 100 for a certificate, and the revenue will be huge, just for that course. Tremendously huge actually.
What are the cost structures for creating an e-learning course? You have the cost of the teacher, the script, if you even have one, and then cost related to technology.
Still, already today, the margin for a course that has upwards of one million students is great.
Then, what do we know about the future cost trend for the technology needed, such as cameras, lighting, software etc? That cost will continue to fall in line with Moore’s law, while the technology will become better, and more user-friendly. Soon; a teacher will not need a studio to create their own e-learning course. Remaining, then, is almost only the cost of the teacher himself.
A cost that was low already from the start, will become lower pretty soon.
Suppose you are a teacher right now who does a “pretty good” course and who has maybe a million students and who pays the amount I mentioned: what is the surplus used for?
Certainly, a lot of that surplus goes to mass “other”, such as stock dividends or subsidization of other activities, or to salary increase for the teacher. But it is also possible that much of the surplus goes back to course development. Then that the teacher can do a better course going forward, and thus get even more students than the previous course had.
It is enough to count very roughly to realize that the development budget that that teacher would get could be big, huge.
The previous course will go from being “pretty good” to being great.
What will happen to bad courses that have been digitized right now, when students discover that there are duplicates? In time, these courses will be closed down. No one wants, or can afford, to run courses without students.
Darwin will, sooner or later, knock out that kind of course.
All this happened on the app-market after a while.
Put together, this will lead us to see a tremendously huge increase in quality in the coming years in the range of courses that will be available in the digital education world. Bad courses will vanish at the same time as pretty good courses will become unusually great.
It is quite uninteresting right now to care about the quality you feel that the digital education world is providing. What is interesting to care about is how tremendously good the world of digital education will become during the upcoming years.