I recently replaced the vacuum breaker on an outdoor anti-siphon spigot. There was a time when that sentence would have seemed not only implausible but as incomprehensible as a discussion of the ontological ramifications of perichoretic symbolism on Romanian Orthodox iconostases sounds to most people.
But the faucet was leaking, and so I got on YouTube and learned what I needed to do. And I did it.
In the past, unless one had been apprenticed in such skills, one simply had no way of knowing them. So when a crisis appeared, you called an expert.
In recent years, libraries have shifted away from stockpiling rare volumes “just in case” they are needed, as newer technological options have allowed them instead to rely on networks of lending and purchasing providers through which needed items can be acquired “just in time.”
After repairing the spigot, I tried to forestall the likely quip from my wife by volunteering the opinion first. Who would have thought that I would ever be the kind of husband that did outdoor plumbing repairs? Not her and not me. But as my wife insightfully observed, YouTube has changed things.
I wonder what the world of higher education will look like as we move in the direction of “just in time” learning and training. There are certainly domains in which we will still expect or need knowledge in advance of when it is strictly needed or required. There are likewise subjects that it requires many books to even begin to understand.
But it is important that higher and indeed all levels of education grapple with the question of what still requires a 4-year degree and what requires access to crowdsourced knowledge in videos. How we learn is changing, just as what and how we read is changing.
What things have you learned and done that you never thought you would, thanks to the internet era of crowdsourced knowledge and video tutorials?
Of related interest, see the IHE article on what bike mechanics and professors have in common.