Creators: The New Educators?
The creator economy is thriving, with the market size surpassing $100 billion in 2021, and many creators succeeding in generating revenue from their content. In the field of “learning,” the creator economy is also expanding as a choice for learning methods.
One of the advantages not seen in traditional educational institutions is the affordability and the ability to learn at one’s own pace. Additionally, the diverse range of options to learn from constantly created new content and different individuals adds significant appeal. In this era, you can learn about business from the founder of Canva or study acting with Natalie Portman.
While there are many benefits for learners, we also need to consider the broader impact. The decrease in the number of students enrolling in universities and vocational schools may lead to a decline in the rate of new entrants into specialized professions such as doctors and nurses. Furthermore, when the value of qualifications decreases, there is a possibility of intensified competition in limited markets. As we cross many borders, such as learning methods, geographical conditions, and access environments through online means, how will our learning change? This week, we will focus on the borderless nature of learning.
Active learning to live in VUCA world
With just under a month left in my study abroad life in Sweden, known as a high welfare state, I find myself reflecting on the differences in attitudes and approaches to “learning” compared to Japanese universities. The number of classes here is overwhelmingly smaller. In one semester, students typically take only about four classes, and there are only 2-3 days of classes per week, with hardly any attendance-taking.
Why do Swedish universities offer students such freedom compared to Japan’s structured schedules? Of course, it’s not about attending classes without studying and getting credits. Instead, students are assigned a large number of papers to read within the course. The classes are designed based on the assumption that students have read these papers, and discussions are held accordingly. Classes are not the primary learning space but rather a supplementary place to deepen one’s learning and apply it.
Even as a fourth-year university student, I am embarrassed to admit that I have been reminded of the significance of attending university. Universities are places where one attends with the will to learn, not compulsory education. The most significant advantage of studying at a university is the ability to expand one’s learning using anything at your disposal. From this perspective, Swedish universities have a system that brings out the potential of students. Inputs are mostly individual, and universities can maximize students’ learning by primarily promoting outputs. Of course, you need to be clear about what you want to learn, but it’s evident that “learning” is more effective than “being taught.” This is what is known as “Active Learning,” and it has many benefits such as enhancing learning abilities and improving persistence in lifelong learning.
Exercising agency in one’s learning and maximizing the use of one’s environment is not limited to university education alone. For those of us living in the VUCA era, continuously directing our attention to the world is essential, and active learning in lifelong education seems to be the key.
To Prevent Young People's Futures from Being Stolen
A stolen future. According to UNICEF’s report titled “A Future Stolen” (2018), approximately 330 million children (aged 5-17) are out of school.
One-third of these children, around 140 million, live in areas affected by conflicts or natural disasters, such as Nigeria, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and others. However, education support to countries facing humanitarian crises is far from sufficient. Only 4% of the so-called humanitarian aid is allocated to education.
Gender and social hierarchies are still factors that deprive children of educational opportunities (unfortunately). While the gender gap in school enrollment is decreasing worldwide, there is still a 2.5-fold disparity in conflict-affected regions. Additionally, children from impoverished backgrounds are over four times more likely to be denied access to primary education compared to children from wealthy families.
Reconnecting these “stolen” children and educational opportunities is a significant theme also addressed by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Therefore, I would like to highlight the educational reform in Ghana, a country located in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ghana aims to achieve a 40% higher education enrollment rate by 2030, and it is strengthening its partnership with the EU to provide more study opportunities for young people. In fact, between 2004 and 2021, 1,200 students and staff have used the Erasmus scholarships offered by the EU to study in Europe, and 400 have obtained master’s degrees through joint degree programs.
The loss of educational opportunities is a significant challenge with substantial economic impact for individuals and society as a whole. Therefore, a system that allows access to high-quality education beyond borders can have a profound significance for young learners in regions facing severe educational disparities.
Learning with Aspiring Minds Across the World
Learning online is great, but it often ends up being short-lived.
In this era where you can learn about various subjects like languages and finance from anywhere in the world, there seem to be two hurdles to online learning. First is the “getting started” barrier, and the second is the “sustaining learning” barrier. Figuring out what content to start learning and from which instructor, as well as how to incorporate learning habits into your daily life, can be challenging. A solution to these concerns might be communication apps like Discord. Users can create channels for specific topics of interest and communicate using text, voice, and video. Even high school teacher Sinn, whose YouTube channel has over 76,000 subscribers, uses Discord to provide a place for studying human geography. In this community of thousands of students, they offer study tips, resources, daily review questions, and unit-specific channels, as well as organize study nights, Q&A sessions, and game nights. Exploring the app and finding learning communities that match your interests, connecting with aspiring minds from around the world, could help maintain motivation.
Indeed, learning communities are open to the world, but it is skeptical whether they are provided “equally.” Today, not only Discord but also platforms like Slack and individual online salons offer access to lectures by top instructors, making meaningful collection of access information key. Furthermore, considering that some people may be in environments with unreliable internet connections, there is a risk of widening the learning gap.
The future of online learning is limitless, capable of providing fulfilling user experiences based on design. While discovering exciting learning opportunities, let’s keep an eye on efforts to expand these experiences.