Monday, January 30, 2006

E-education

There is a raging discussion on Ryze business networking forum – What is the next billion-dollar idea? There are many ideas which got discussed, including a science of communicating with the dead. But, on a more serious note, someone mused – ‘e-education is the most under-funded idea of all time’.

Precisely, it is. I mean in the context of the huge possibility that electronic delivery of education opens up, it got nowhere so far. If you compare the idea with similar education ideas like Evening Classes and distance education, and see it in the backdrop of the accelerated era of the internet, it is actually going nowhere so far. It is still largely in the domain of training, largely as a training manager’s toy, an intellectual fancy and confined within a few pioneering projects.

Well, no denying that there are great companies, cool technologies and the University of Phoenix. But, where is the amazon.com of e-Learning/ e-education? Where is the billion dollar Expedia of Online Learning? Where is the habit changing eBay in the education market-place? I do see electronic learning so far to be devoid of its heroes and darlings.

There may so many reasons for this revolution betrayed. For one, education has always been a domain of gray hair and conservative ideas. It is politically sensitive too - governments do not want businesses to play around with education. And, overall, it is execution, of both the policy makers and technology providers, that is letting the idea down.

Well, i must concede the idea exists and is fairly deep-rooted than it seems. I was surprised - and that was an understatement - when I saw the National e-education project of the Government of Myanmar [those lying generals dont even allow internet access in the country]! So, yes, the idea is there. But, everywhere, it is Professor XYZ from Shahjalal University [well, just a name - I dont mean anyone] heading the project, trying to create a classroom as opaque as the real one on the internet. No wonder, so far, all such attempts have been rejected by the consumers.

Time now, for a Jeff Bezos! Would someone come forward, please - with similar guts and ambition? It is indeed an idea in search of an entrepreneur.

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