The Power of Online Education

When we look at the access to knowledge over time, we can clearly identify a growing pattern. Until the 1920s you actually had to go to a library reading books/newspapers (Yes, libraries contained books once upon a time) or talk with somebody (possibly a professor) to gain knowledge about a particular topic. Then, after the first World War, broadcasting became popular, first radio and subsequently TV. This marked a shift in knowledge access and suddenly information was way easier to distribute and available. In the 1990s, the World Wide Web started to rise in popularity and initialized what would later be described as a knowledge explosion.

At the point in time when the Internet was still young, not much changed in the process of how people gained formal education. The standard was relatively similar as 50 years ago:

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After going to school, men needed to enlist in the army before pursuing their own future plans. Women skipped the army step. Subsequently, both male and female could seek educatiion that would allow them to find a job. This was usually training or university.

There was hardly any way around this, admittetdly simplified, process. With the emergence of the internet, however, a decrease in importance of formal education (training and/or university) was effected. Let me explain why. Due to the aforementioned increase in knowledge outside of the traditional sources (mostly books), people became less reliant on having access to the big libraries or social contact with peers or professors. They could just go on the internet and access the information there and even talk to people around the globe who are interested in the same subject.

It started to look like this:

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The internet was still very small and largely seen as inadequate to replace formal education, especially for job-finding purposes. But it was there and growing in popularity during the 1990s. The established universities did not really care and kept doing things as usual. Meanwhile, websites such as Wikipedia started to pop up and the power of the Web for knowledge seekers became more and more apparent.

Let’s fast forward a bit…

In 2006 the Khan Academy came into existence and the first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) emerged with edX, Coursera and Udacity in 2012. The New York Times called it “the year of the MOOC“. Supported by big universities (edX was created by the MIT and Harvard), these online education providers started to gain traction and popularity.


More and more people decide to use the power of the Internet to enhance their skills or build a portfolio of knowledge.

Benefits include:

  • Access to highly specific and high-quality information (top universities)
  • Collaboration with people around the world
  • Very affordable
  • Location independent

While traditional universities are still present, they are increasingly challenged by MOOC’s and their many benefits.

Let’s update our little graph:


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Note that the obligation to enlist in the army is gone in most developed countries


The debate on the question of whether MOOC’s can adequately replace getting a degree from a university is gaining momentum as more and more people are using this medium of education. The consensus is that employees still prefer a university degree over any online certificate and that they value MOOC diplomas on a level as social engagement or extracurricular activities.

A different opinion comes from Elon Musk (SpaceX, Tesla)

The question remains and we have to wait and see how online eduction develops over time, especially in terms of employer acknowledgement. I, personally, would love to see an increase in acceptance of MOOC certifications. Having completed a couple of courses myself, the access to incredibly high-quality content is astounding in my opinion. Whatever you might be passionate about, there is a 99% chance of finding an inspiring course online.

Have you looked into any Massive Open Online Course? Where do you guys see the trend of MOOC’s going? Will they be a viable alternative to formal education in the near future?

Would love to read your take on the issue in the comments below!



Snap strengthens their adverstising commitment

You all know Snapchat, the service that allows you to send annoying selfies to friends and colleagues. Most of you are also familiar with using so-called “geofilters”. These are location specific filters that you can put over your picture at Disneyland and suddenly all your friends can see where the picture was taken.


Generated using Dunnnk (Source)

Previously, marketers had little idea about how effective these custom filters actually are. People might use them but do they drive more people to the store or in the case above into Disneyland?

Snap now grants selected companies access to more precise tracking and conversion statistics with the intention to make advertising through Snapchat a more viable strategy. The intuition behind Snap to Store is explained in the illustration below.


Snap to Store (Source)

Basically, as long as people are using the application, Snap can see the users physical location. In conjunction with the information of whether or not the user viewed a snap with the respective store depicted in it, Snap can then calculate how effective the geofilter was in driving visits to that particular store.

Everybody can now decide whether they are cool with the Snaps usage of user data or not. If not, you can just disallow Snapchat to have access to your GPS data, the geofilters are then gone obviously.

More intriguing is the question of the impact that this has on companies trying to generate location-specific advertisements. Is Snap trying to compete with Facebook or Google or do they follow a different approach? In my opinion, they follow a different path here. Viewing a company related filter over a snap from your friend creates a distinct message from a standard advertisement. It’s more personal and thus could be more effective in influencing people to visit the store. It will certainly be interesting to see the first statements of companies describing their experience with the Snap to Store tracking functionality.

Do you think that this B2B feature makes Snapchat more feasible for advertising? Is such a functionality in competition with Facebook/Google or can Snap create a market niche? Post your comments below!



Traditional TV: on the way out?

Humanity has been watching TV since the 1940s. Back then everything was black and white, the introduction of color broadcasting started a couple of years later. Since that point, there really has not been any significant progress of the whole concept “watching TV”. Yes, we have broadcasts in 1080p now and our televisions look nice and sleek now, but the general concept stayed the same. You choose a particular channel and watch whatever the show producers come up with.

Not surprisingly, more and more people are turning away from traditional TV consumption towards online streaming services. This trend is especially visible in the 16-24 yrs. age segment. As a result, TV channels find themselves in a difficult position. Should they embrace the fact that their audience is shifting more towards older people? Or should they use their limited broadcasting time to retain the young demographics?

watching tv


Let’s look at their biggest competitor: online streaming services.

Currently, the US video streaming market weighs $6.62 billion and over 85% of all broadband households subscribe to at least one offering (Netflix being the market leader). When it comes to non-subscription based online services, YouTube exceeds the reach of Netflix by an order (!) of magnitude (see graph below).

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So, what happens when the TV industry tries to cope with the threat of Netflix and Youtube?

YouTube TV

A few days ago, Google announced that they are partnering with major US broadcasters to create an online streaming service for watching live TV. Costing $35 a month, the service allows customers in selected US cities to watch channels on all their devices and even record shows for delayed entertainment.

To me, Youtube TV appears to be a (desperate) effort of the TV industry to stop young people from completely turning their back on traditional TV.  In my opinion, they have missed the opportunity of transitioning to digital platforms themselves. Most of their own digital services (Facebook Groups, Smartphone Apps, Websites) are not designed with the wants of our generation in mind. Thereby, they fail to create a social component that retains viewers.

Still, it might be that the overall concept of having limited ability to choose content is just outdated. If that’s the case, then they will have a hard time competing long-term with experienced video-on-demand services such as Netflix or Amazon Video.

Where do you think the TV industry is heading? Can services such as YouTube TV help to make traditional TV more relevant to you? Would love to hear your opinions in the comments!