Late last year, I was in a small conference room listening to Michael Saylor, the billionaire that is as close as it gets to a Steve Jobs figure, and, luckily for me, happens to reside in the Washington D.C. area. Saylor was discussing his latest book. Besides his compelling case for an American 21st century (when most Americans are predicting the opposite) I remember a point which can be paraphrased as if a 15 year old from India scores better than a Harvard graduate on an online certification test for a particular job, why would one hire the Harvard graduate? In one sentence Saylor exposed preconceptions behind not just national and educational barriers, but also age and experience level. Which naturally leads to the question of Harvard’s relevance, and in general to that of the educational establishment in the 21st century. To drive the point, Michael Saylor has recently started a free online university. Saylor’s university is not yet accredited, but what if entrepreneurs like Saylor start hiring these kinds of “graduates” over those from traditional universities? Clayton Christensen reinforces many of Saylor’s perspectives for how online education will disrupt the educational establishment.
Many of the current arguments made for the future of education involve technology. But what if we take technology out of the picture, is there still something to be said about the future of education? I propose there is.