Does the supply of education create a demand for that supply?
Now, I know that is not what Say’s Law says. I’m simply using the rather more popular version of the statement of Say’s Law (“supply creates its own demand”) and using it in the case of one specific sector, education.
So, with that disclaimer in place: does the supply of education create a demand for that supply?
In other words, is it enough to create awesome MOOC’s, prepare thoroughly well-prepared lecture notes, write fantastically well-thought out textbooks – or is there a role for mentorship in education?
The reason I ask the question because there is an abundance (some might even say far too much) of teaching material out there. YouTube alone has more lectures on any given topic than you can expect to watch in a semester, and that is ignoring everything else that is available on the internet. Add in good ol’ textbooks, journal articles and what-have-you’s, and well, there’s just too much supply.
A glut, if you will.
Has it, then, reached a stage where Barry Schwartz might want to take an interest in analyzing this problem?
So say, for example, I had to teach a course called Principles of Economics (as I hope to next semester). Should I teach this course as I would have otherwise? Take the concept of elasticity of demand. Should I draw the graphs, spell out the concept, write down the equations… or might it be better taught by asking four different groups to watch four different videos about the topic, and then discussing it all in class together?
Teaching in 2020 ought to have taught all of us that teaching in a class can no longer be a substitute for material that is already available on the internet. It must necessarily be a complement. And if it is to be a complement, playing the role of a Guide For Everything That Is Out There On The Internet is perhaps the best use of our time.
Filtering out the not-so-good videos (and maybe even speaking in class about why we think they’re not-so-good) ought to be one of our job descriptions from here on in. Having students speak about what they thought about a particular video – what they liked, what they didn’t, and why – ought to be another. Best of all, having students create their own material ought to be top of the list.
We’ve all heard that line about learning happening the most when we teach others. The ubiquity of electronic devices this past year should mean that learning need no longer be an act of passive listening. It can, instead, be an act of active content creation. Watch videos, read blogposts, listen to podcasts, discuss what you learnt, pinpoint what you didn’t like – and then go and make it better.
Honestly, what better way to learn?
We’ve been talking about flipped classrooms for years now. This past year may well be the impetus we needed to turn it into an everyday, mundane reality rather than a gimmicky line in our documentation.