An interesting business opportunity

I\’ve just written up a quick ad, elsewhere, for a company offering tutoring. US high school sort of stuff. Online tutoring.

They offer 24/7 service, as much as any one child wants, in any and every subject, for $99 a month. No, not per subject, total.

Given the length of the school year that\’s about £700 or so a year I think.

If I set up a free school the government will give me something like £8,000 per year per pupil. A linux type netbook costs about £200 these days.

My God, I\’m going to make a fortune.

Being ever so slightly serious about this though, in the early days of a new technology it\’s not always clear which industries it\’s going to change, revolutionise. We might think the jetliner has transformed tourism but it\’s had as large, or larger, effect on sucking out the need for capital from businesses by enabling just in time stocking of parts.

Arguably the Model T changed dating and marriage habits more than anything else.

It\’s possible that the internet is going to change the education business more than any other sector of the economy. Why ship every child in and out each and every day to watch someone standing on their hind legs lecturing them when you can just beam the same thing to their PC?

What would a \”teach once, learn many\” model do to labour productivity among the educrats, eh?

As William Baumol keeps pointing out, it\’s not the inventions which continually raise productivity, something which is exactly the same as making us all richer, it\’s what people find to do with the inventions which raises productivity which makes us all richer.

13 thoughts on “An interesting business opportunity”

  1. “Why ship every child in and out each and every day”: because the first job of teachers is as baby-minders.

  2. Yeah, but there hasn’t been a model that works yet – and I’ve been looking for one. Humans generally like to do things in groups – and when they are doing difficult stuff (new, different, challenging etc) they aren’t so good alone.

  3. The bicycle is supposed to have done most for the health of the working-class by letting them travel and marry outside the village.
    Not what Dunlop and the others expected.

  4. “What would a “teach once, learn many” model do to labour productivity among the educrats, eh?”

    There’s an online course company called lynda.com. It runs software training courses on a subscription of $25/month which are pretty good IMO.

    On Doug’s point, you miss the feedback from a trainer, but you just use your online network to find other experts in the field to give you the sort of support when you get stuck.

    I haven’t been on a paid, classroom training course in nearly a decade. I’ve got better things to do than spend £1200 on a course (+ 4 days out of work) when I can cram the same stuff into a couple of days at a much lower cost.

  5. Personally, I think I gained more from mixing with other kids at school than I did from the teachers. Socialisation might suffer if we all sat in front of a sreen on our own to learn.

  6. There’s more to education than being taught facts and figures. There’s mixing with out kids. There’s the friendships that are made, and broken. There’s the learning about authority (or maybe not in current times).

    Online training works in specific cases and can work extremely well. Especially for adult students. But in other cases it’s piss poor.

  7. Agreed that the social aspects of school are also important.

    But the children only seem to learn about 20 minutes worth of stuff per day (if that; a fifth of them still haven’t learned to read & write properly after 11 years at school).

    So let’s hire scout leader types to take them out doing social activities all morning, then they can do a couple of hours of formal learning with their online tutors after lunch.

    Timmy could still make a fortune, and the education will be much better than it is now under the educrats.

  8. why would any child bother to learn from a screen when they can play video games instead. Even these days real schools are sort of symbolic ‘you come hear to learn’ places.

  9. I’m learning Japanese from the guys at Japanesepod101.com (I have no affiliation etc etc) – it costs barely anything and I use it at home, on the plane…during my coffee break at work I can fire up the Ipad and it seems 100s of times more useful than some class that I would have to schlepp to in the rain all winter. That site and its competitors have video, audio, transcripts, live support. One of my colleagues is actually going to “real” classes and I have to say, my first reaction was – people still do that?

    “Agreed that the social aspects of school are also important”
    The positive social aspects – hardly. My children seem to be able to socialise after hours with the kids they like perfectly well. The advantage of going to school seems mainly to be that you learn to deal with weirdos, deviants, violent children and bullies. Physical self defence and emotional resilience are reinforced by the goings-on there. If a child was home-schooled then turned up in my workplace when they grew up, I suspect they would sit in a cupboard and cry.

  10. Socialisation is only good when it is good: plenty of children suffer miserably at the hands of their peers, and the value of age segregation is questionable. Of course isolated online learning would be just as unhealthy, but then the flexibility of online learning could free up far more time for proper socialisation in wider society. The real problem, as noted above, is the child-minding aspect.

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