The universities were essential because in the old days, the cost of distribution and the cost of convening was so high that you had to pick the smartest kids around and you would invest a lot of money to education them because there just wasn’t that much education to go around.   

With the Internet, you can give access to information to everybody at no cost, and you can actually convene people online on these online education forums and things like that.  So suddenly, we’ve gone from a world of scarcity where you could only education a certain number of people every year to a world where you should be able to educate everyone.  

And so I think one of the key things that we need to do is take these business models that we’ve created and these institutions that we’ve created that are designed around the fundamental notion of scarcity and for instance, things like admissions quotas and things like that - I think online education has the opportunity to completely blow this thing inside out where everybody has access to really great education.  And then some of the people move on to get different types of interaction.   

Obviously there’s some limitations to how many people can fit in a physical room and things like that, but I think that online education is the – is really the beginning of a fundamental shift from sort of the mindset of scarcities and one of abundance.  And so I think it’s’ – there’s a lot that needs to be developed and we’re still in the very early days.  And I think we’re till focused too much on the delivery of instruction rather than delivery of construction and the delivery of education instead of the delivery of learning.  I think it’s much more important to teach people how to think than it is to teach people facts.  And we’re still very much focused on testing people for whether they’ve learned a fact, than whether they’ve learned a skill or a pattern. 

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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