After spending the next four minutes reading this article you’re going to fully understand why traditional education is disappearing and being replaced by its virtual counterpart. In essence the whole situation could be summed up by stitching together these two things: debt and technology. With that said let’s fill in the holes.

The Current Situation

At this very moment six year old first graders probably know more about the next generations of mobile gadgetry coming out than their parents. High school kids understand that a) anything they need to know they can likely get it for free in seconds using the modern internet, and b) that they do not need a traditional education to get “employed” by the dramatically expanding virtual economy.

We’re transitioning into a “teach yourself anything” type of world. The founder of Yelp famously taught himself guitar by watching YouTube videos…and he’s really freaking good!

More and more college-age folks are skipping the classroom and becoming contemporary entrepreneurs, startups and online-based freelance contractors. Or, they’re opting for opensource education where they can take free online classes via the internet from Ivy League schools (from Stanford to M.I.T) who see the writing on the wall.

Throughout the western world unemployment rates are at frightening levels for 20 to 30 somethings in the traditional workforce. In America roughly 20-30% of college graduates from the last 4-6 years are living at home with their parents working menial service-sector jobs with no future.

A Tech-Induced Paradigm Shift

According to current projections, within the next 5-10 years about 70% of the “human” jobs in the world will be gone, replaced by automation, robotics and algorithmic artificial intelligence. Kaboom!

Machines will be serving our food, driving our cars (or they’ll drive themselves) and delivering the mail. Get it? Right, so then what are traditional educations preparing students for? Where will the jobs be? What’s the real world workforce going to look like just 6 months from now? And, thanks to the arrival of mainstream digital currency, how will people get paid?

Welcome to the information age where information and online human relationships/engagement are the name of the game. And, most of it’s free! How will conventional learning institutions survive?

Online Tutoring & Educational Work

What’s the point of a University? I mean the physical institution itself, the buildings and dorms and whatnot. If a student has an internet connection and a decent PC they can take MBA classes online from anywhere. They can attend class webinars while lounging on a beach. They can comment in the class forums while munching a sandwich at an internet café. They can consult with their professors through video chat on Skype. Google hangouts anyone?

Maybe hiring a foreign online tutor would be easier and far more effective? While online tutoring hasn’t quite caught on yet in the western world, in the east online tutors have millions of students, make millions of dollars, and some are treated like rock stars!

Education went digital. It’s cheaper and let’s face it, the old world is crushing itself under hundreds of trillions in debt no one is ever going to pay off. For-profit institutions are either going to adapt or perish. Universities need to balance their checkbooks and realize that pretty soon no one’s going to be taking out any student loans.

The open source model is going to take over soon. There’s no stopping it. Quality education that’s relevant to today with access to online tutors and tailored niche information…for free!

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  •  License: Image author owned

By Ali Asjad

Ali Asjad is a content strategist based in Stockholm, Sweden. He helps companies in vast and varied verticals be more successful and visible online. Circle him on Google+ to further the conversation.