An old, great, management-idea claim that culture eats corporate strategy for lunch. And definitely; culture is a strong thing. It can even be so strong that it might shed light into why Udacity now seem to be stepping out of China, even though E-learning is growing heavily at this very moment, not the least there.
Education, as such, is a kind of product deeply embedded in culture. You can literately see what that means for yourself, if you just step into a classroom at different places on the globe. We actually do education differently in different cultures, and that for instance explain why different LMS-system coming from different parts of the globe tend to have been built upon different kind of pedagogical ideas.
FutureLearn is from UK, and to them the core of their LMS-system seem to be the “Discussion”. It fits fairly well with the history of their founder, Open University. Edx and Coursera, is instead from USA, and to them the core of their LMS-system seem to be the “Video”. Is it the UK-way of doing education versus the US-way to do it we see mirrored in these systems?
Adding to all that; education also tend to be given for different reasons. And here you for instance find the reason why one of the oldest universities in my own country, Sweden, actually is established down south, close to the boarder to Denmark. The university is called Lund University and was established already 1666. It is among the oldest universities in the northern part of Europe.
The reason why it is located in the small city of Lund? That part of the country had for a fairly long time been a fight between the Swedes, and the Danes, and now, 1666, the Swedish King “finally” wanted to make “Swedes” out of the ones living there. So, he created Lund University. It was a cultural project one might claim.
Today there is no king involved in the university sector in Sweden anymore, and Denmark is Denmark and Sweden is Sweden. It is two different countries with peaceful relationships among each other since several hundred years back. But the university is still located in Lund.
At this moment it obviously seem like the US-based E-learning-company Udacity is stepping out of China. According this article they seem to be running out of cash.
How come a great E-learning provider like Udacity is running out of cash while E-learning, not the least in China, as such, is growing fairly rapidly at this very moment?
Udacity provide unusually interesting courses, and they are also among the few educational actors on the globe at this very moment that even give degrees in the interesting field of “Self-driving-cars”.
Well, if cash is a problem then it is not unlikely to be a good reason for stepping out. If you have to save money you have to get it somewhere, so why not from the Chinese operations? But, as just mentioned; education is also a cultural product and what is the actually reason behind if they are now stepping out of China?
Why are they not closing other parts of their operations instead? Why step out from such an unusually interesting market as China in particular?
Could it actually be that the Chinese students prefer to head for Chinese E-learning providers instead, even if Udacity might be a great provider of good E-learning (which I happen to believe that they actually are)?
Assume for a second that this is the actual underlying reason for stepping out of China in particular. Does it then also mean that US-based students, instead, will not go for the Chinese E-learning providers the upcoming years? And then we might gradually start seeing the world of education becoming divided, also in the digital space, just as it was before E-learning started to evolve and then gradually tried to make this into a global business.
Well, at least I would not be surprised if that is what we gradually see happening here under the surface.
Not exactly all markets become global in the same pace as Moore´s law indicate that they should. And some markets are a bit slower in becoming truly global than others.