Andy Kessler said he went through a semesters worth of classes by watching lectures on YouTube. In the article Kessler claims that lectures are free, as we learned in class lectures or the information given in a lecture is a public good. Colleges take the public good and deliver it to you through lectures. Kessler could go through four years of YouTubeU and get nothing. As we know for all our time sitting through lectures at the end we gain a little piece of paper that says to potential employees, hey hire me.


Logan said...

This brings up an interesting point that I have struggled with for years. The 'little piece of paper' that you mentioned truly has become a worshiped idol that I propose is mostly worthless in determining job skills and industry compatibility. I know several people with at least one, if not several Bachelor's or Master's degrees, yet I would not trust them to drive my family to the park let alone run my company.

What is done with the education is truly the disseminating factor. Many success stories come from college dropouts. Therefore, if you can obtain the knowledge of a degree and apply that knowledge to gain the wisdom to properly perform it, what is the difference between a paper MBA and a non-paper MBA if their performance is the same?

I would personally prefer to hire a manager that has more practical experience and understanding than someone that has just studied it their whole life.

Dr. Tufte said...

And ... what is the ManEc point of this?

As to the YouTube videos, my guess is that the quality of those is not as high as an interactive classroom. On the other hand, college is what you make of it, and that might be a way that works for some people.

As to Logan's comment, a degree is a way for you to signal your value to others in a way that is low cost for them. I do think the quality of that signal has declined, but I'm not sure whether that loss is significant.

Interestly, there are some studies of the value of what people learn in school, and what a degree signals. When you separate things out, degrees signal things other than education - like whether you finish what you start, and will you jump through the hoops of others. Those qualities are not unimportant to employers.

William said...

Dr. Tufte,
I agree with you and think that college is definitely what you make of it. For me personally if I just watched the screen and listened to a lecture I would not learn much. For me, I learn best when I interact and dissect all the information given.

I also agree with your second point that you made. College I think gives you some basic skills that you would not have if you did not attend. For instance I think you learn how to problem solve, manage your time, discuss your ideas clearly, write intellectually, have a clear thought and give reasoning behind that thought, and much more. I know for me I have learned a lot over my college years and have gain many skills that I could have never had or gained if I did not attend college.

Dr. Tufte said...

-1 on William for a grammatical problem.

Economists have found very little evidence that the content of what students learn is critical to their success beyond college. Instead, most of the gain comes from the experience. I don't think you can get that through the TV. Universities are selling delivery not content, otherwise I think video would have killed them very quickly.