Online Education should be inspired by Video Games

The evolution of education is an interesting one to watch. We have several experiments going on (treehouse, coursera, edX and others), each of them producing some interesting numbers I’m sure. Numbers I do not have visibility into. From observing friends and family and my own behavior, I am going to go ahead though and place a strong bet: The percentage of people signing up for an online course and actually finishing it is probably in the low single digits.

So what would get me more interested in finishing my course?
The same thing that gets me to finish that video game I bought last week: Easy on-boarding, a painless way to save my progress, getting roped right back into where I was, even after being absent for some time and hearing from my friends how awesome this gets down the road.

Imagine a streamlined education store, instead of a collection of different vendors, that each have their own wonky system and confusing UX. It should be easy for me to get a preview, pick and get started on a new course. I’d be pumped about an achievement system that keeps things exciting and shareable with friends. And upfront I’d appreciate more info so I can make a better choice of what to get myself into. How long does this course take to complete? What have previous students said about this course?

Some of the players in that space have some of those features, but none of them absolutely nailed the execution. It feels a lot like the smart phone market prior to the iPhone. It kinda works, but it’s missing some magic.

If I had to place another bet, one on where the future of education is heading, I wouldn’t bet on ones (higher) education coming out of institutions, but rather out of many or even just individuals. Probably individuals in the long run.

Feel free to share your thoughts with me on twitter @zinssmeister


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