Sunday, February 12, 2006

Apple Enters The Education Market

According to published reports in the FT, Podcast pedagogy divides opinion at US universities, Apple is turning it's attention to education delivery systems.

Rebecca Knight reports that

For Kathryn Bowser, a 19-year-old biology student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, the best time to sit through a lecture on organic chemistry happens to be when she is riding the exercise bike at the gym.

The right product to the right person at the right time. It's the oldest rule about making money in the marketplace.

The core value of higher education is not the lecture series. Rather it's the continuing real world conversation among students, faculty and others in the community and the rich networks that grow in the college experience.

If the lecture can be delivered faster, better, and cheaper using new technology, it's not surprising that an innovative company is figuring out how to do it. And not surprisingly, there will be many Universities that will be frightened at the idea of reliquishing "control" of their "content". As were music companies, and book publishers.

But the relentless logic of the GME redefines value creation and disaggregates value packages that worked well in the last century, but have become less valuable in this one.

A central concept of the GME is that the monetizable value is timeliness and effectiveness. Any entreprise that can save time and increase effectiveness at the appropriate cost will find a sustainable business model. It just may not be the one they presently have.

If educational content can be delivered in less time, and be available when the student (consumer) is most ready to absorb it a business model will probably emerge that will allow that to happen.


Jean-Claude Bradley said...

It will be interesting to see how the podcasting and vodcasting phenomena are monetized. Apple's iTunesU model seems to be based on song dowloads while students are on the site downloading their class podcasts. It is unclear how many universities will find it advantageous enough to enter into an agreement with Apple. In the case of the article you mention, iTunesU was not involved, though the podcast was listed in the regular iTunes. This particular class is password protected but my other organic chemistry classes are open courseware and available on iTunes.

Michael J said...

I agree that following the model will be interesting.

My own guess is that it's at least possible that the value of the college experience will be disaggregated.

Lectures are very important, but frankly ipod delivery might turn out to be a better way to fulfill that function.

That should allow Universities to put more resources into the unique value of college - students and faculty being involved in conversations and activities that lead to true learning.

From my point of view, the value proposition of college is to create a culture of continuous learning, as well as specific domain expertise.