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What is the Future of Education?

By Joey Korenman

Is the age of Brick and Mortar schools over? We didn't start the trend toward online, but we think the digital revolution has only just begun

When School of Motion started, the goal wasn't to “reinvent education” or anything so lofty. We wanted to break down the barriers to entry for the industry and ensure everyone had access to high-quality education in motion design.
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But the unique format we created and the timing (yay online education!) put us, unintentionally, at the forefront of online teaching. COVID has hyper accelerated trends that were already in motion, and now we’re staring at a new educational landscape. Here are some things we’ve learned.
  • Goodbye student loans
  • Options for online learning
  • The next generation of online learning

Student Loans are Cancelled

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We're not exactly the tip of the spear when we say STUDENT LOANS SUCK! This may be specific to our American community, but the rising cost of education has led to a growing number of people entering into loans to further their education. One-in-eight Americans has some form of student loan, equalling nearly $1.7 Trillion in debt. For the majority of these households, student loan payments are the second highest bill after rent/mortgage.
"But higher education leads to higher wages." Sometimes, but not always. Sure, the average American with a Bachelors earns an extra $1 Million...over the course of their career. When school costs on average $80,000 for in-state and $200,000 for private institutions, it's a hard ask to wait most of your career to be able to recoup that cost.
Still, you need training to be able to stay ahead, especially in our industry. Software changes, new programs emerge, and suddenly you need to find a classroom to get caught up...all at a premium cost. Thankfully, the landscape of secondary education is changing, and not a moment too soon.

Goodbye student loans

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Goodbye student loans, hello ISA’s and employer-funded education. Employers these days want very specific skills, and they are tired of waiting for universities to update curriculums and to teach the state of the art. New models are popping up to help both employers and students.

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I’m obsessed with this brilliant coding school that charges you ZERO until you get a job. Once you get a job, your “income share agreement” kicks in and you pay a % of your salary until you’ve paid off your debt: $30K. Many employers will pay off this ISA as a signing, effectively removing loan companies from the equation.

On the job training

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We’ve seen an explosion of businesses reaching out to us to help teach their artists new skills, or to beef up existing skills. This is further evidence that most businesses don’t seem to care anymore where your skills came from. Expensive art school? Great. Online school? Great…and we’ll even pay for it.
Obviously, the big caveat is that you need to already work at these companies to reap this particular benefit, but it is a great way to future-proof your workforce. For any employers curious about how upskilling your employees empowers workers and strengthens your company, we've got a few thoughts.

Quick classes for lifelong learners

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We’ve expanded the types of courses we offer to include shorter, more targeted training—workshops— and soon we’ll be expanding even more (School of Everything?) What we’ve learned is that online learners are really “lifelong learners” and they come in a million shapes and sizes. Some want a 12-week beatdown, others want something to upgrade their skills while their toddler is napping… we’re expanding to serve more types of learners, and so are other places.
  • Our classes are extremely interactive, with 24/7 student groups, support and critique from industry pros, and multi-week learning experiences that run quarterly.
  • MoGraph Mentor continues to run live-sessions (Zoom enabled) a few times a year. This works great for students in similar time zones and who really want the most interactive experience possible.
  • Options like Skillshare, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer bite-sized lessons that are great for people dipping their toes into the water.

The next generation of education

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Allow me to prognosticate for a moment…. I think that this whole “online learning revolution” is still in the very early stages. What comes next is going to be cray. 2020 shook the foundations of a number of institutions, and education might become a new focus for a changed generation.

Parents have a different view on education than they used to

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My generation (technially a millennial but I feel more Gen X) was raised from birth to just assume college was what you did. That is changing FAST, especially after the year many students just had. Online (when done correctly) can compete with in-person on many levels, and when combined with alternative lifestyles that are becoming more popular (vanlife, digital nomad, year abroad) you can hack together the education-journey of your choosing for waaaaaaaaay less than the old model.
Personally, I don’t care if my kids go to college. If they have to go (to be a doctor, for example) then they’ll go, but I am all-in on the idea that college is not necessary for many, many jobs.
Many of my peers are starting to think like me, and younger generations are already there. The kids who are growing up right now will have WILDLY different ideas about college than most people do now.

Technology will only get better

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5G / Starlink / low-latency tech will make online video even better, VR will become a feasible medium for more life-like interactions, and the software that runs online schools will improve more and more.
Our tech platform is one of a kind, and we’ve started talking to a few partners about opening it up for other online schools to use.

Teaching isn’t just “a thing teachers do”

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The idea that “teaching” is only done by “teachers” is an outdated one. I never considered myself a teacher before starting SOM, I just knew that I enjoyed helping people learn stuff. It turns out, there are a LOT of people like that out there who are discovering that you don’t need a school or university to hire you to teach.
You can kick off your own school in minutes using online tools like Teachable, you can work with online schools like us to create workshops or other types of training, and you can do it all from anywhere in the world.

In conclusion

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I don’t think college is going to suddenly disappear, but I do think that there is a reckoning coming for institutions that haven’t been giving students as much in value as they’ve been taking in tuition. The “cadillac option” will still be around, but more and more students (and their parents) will embrace the education revolution that has been picking up speed for the last few years.
Whether you want to learn motion design, coding, or just about anything else you can do it online. Even accounting can be taught online (and why shouldn’t it be?). Access to education is no longer the insurmountable barrier it once was, and the future has never been brighter.