Why Web Video Might Cause Teachers To Lose Their Jobs


I’ve long been a proponent of using web video for education.  Why?  The reasons are simple.  Not only can the viewer benefit tremendously, but it’s arguably the most profitable business model to boot.

It might also…eventually…kick a good number of teachers out of their jobs.  Howard Lindzon said it best in a recent blog post (Howard is a highly-respected investor, hedge fund manager and entrerpeneur):

Does it make any sense for 5,000 teachers around the country to teach the same college algebra or macroeconomics course every semester? Of course not. Obviously, if you could take a class from Greg Mankiw or Tyler Cowen why would you resort to taking a class from some mid-level hack (assuming prices were similar)? The only reason 5,000 teachers are regurgitating the same subject in 5,000 separate classrooms around the country is because as little as a few years ago we didn’t have the technology for thousands of students around the country to learn from the same professor.

In other words, if you had the choice between learning from someone who is the best in the world vs. someone who is just average, who would you pick?  The bigger point being that web video is rapidly giving you that choice.

You can read the full text of Howard Lindzon’s post by clicking here.

And my question for you is, what’s your opinion on web video creating a “survival of the fittest” environment for teachers?


  • Dave,

    I’m not sure teachers are at risk… yet. The US education system is a pretty large institution and won’t change overnight. Local tax dollars school our kids (some say babysit) K-12 and I don’t see that changing for awhile.

    However, the cost of a college education is extending beyond the reach of the middle class. I believe we’ll begin looking for alternatives to saddling graduates with massive amounts of debt and questionable ROI’s.

    When MIT offers their courseware for free, teachers could become more “facilitators” to guide individual learning and to be available to answer questions. I could see them localizing study groups or social networks. Think more along the lines of tutoring instead of regurgitating teaching material.

    Two big changes that need to occur for this to happen are either an accreditation process so we can “prove” one “knows” their stuff upon graduation OR the realization (as Dan Schawbel say’s) that experience trumps education. So if you want to major in business, the best way to learn about business is to START one.

    This doesn’t mean we stop learning. In fact quite the contrary. We’re going to have to be continually learning, sharpening our skills, and building our brand by advertising our personal abilities.

    And that my friend, is good for us in the online video business.

    Scott Skibell

  • Hi Dave,

    The one thing you can’t replicate with lessons delivered by video is the interation & discussion between teacher and student. This is vital in the student understanding and mastering the subject.

    In my view video would be a great enhancement to learning as it can be used as the basis for class room lessons which can then be taken further locally. It would also provide a useful way of revisiting a subject for additional learning and for exam revision.

    Here in the Uk children teachers already use TV programs, films and the internet (as well as traditional books etc.) to strengthen the learning experience for children and to keep then interested, stimulated and learning quickly. Video tutorials would be a natural extension of that process.
    Simon Beck

  • Outstanding article! We’re already seeing this transition in the homeschool movement. My daughters get their math instruction from a former engineer and LOVE IT! They learn science from another engineer (rocket scientist) and LOVE that!

    Several big name homeschool publishers offer DVD’s and even a satellite broadcasting option for all subjects. That option is cost prohibitive for many families, so it’s not as popular, but has been in existence.

    It doesn’t totally remove the need for teacher interaction, like some might think. There are still tests and papers to grade and the children will have questions. But those tasks can be divided amongst people with less skills (and therefore get paid less).

    It’s a brilliant model and one I look forward to exploring. Makes my husband and I reconsider what we’re doing in terms of saving for our kids education in a 529 plan. I have doubts whether those plans will have kept up with technology when our kids start college…online. :o)

  • This worries me. The whole reason I left college in the first place, (and 2nd and 3rd times) is because I felt there was no accountability for what the professors taught. At least on the public school level, teachers are obligated to submit a full lesson plan to the board. (not that I advocate such excesses)

    I don’t think that teaching in a public forum will go away anytime soon. Though many of the subjects may disinterest, there is value in being instructed in those things which we don’t seek out ourselves. People receive information for the web based on their interests, but a general education can open one’s eyes to other here-to-fore undiscovered areas of interest.

    Adam @Advent Creative Web Design

  • From the UK, we’ve started to home school our kids, we are not teachers but average Joes, I’m a former Royal Marine and my wife is a former PA.

    Our education system in the UK like most western countries does the job, But we have seen a marked increase in their literacy and numeracy as a result of them being tutored for a shorter period but with a greater focus.

    Much of the subject matter comes from online multi-media and much of it is video. The resources are already online although scattered.

    Schools are basically places for us to leave the kids while we all go to work or have a break.

    BBC iplayer does an excellent job of showing the potential of streaming knowledge. It’s a big debate but I think Dave’s right here.

  • I’m sure they said the same thing when TV first came out. And the printing press, and the cave drawing.

    Yes, homeschooling will probably use web video instead of dvds and audio tapes.