The World is Your Classroom

Is formal education slowly being replaced by Internet video? In this blog, we will teach you "how to" become a student in the greatest classroom of all – the world wide web.


The average American spends 11.8 hours each day consuming information, according to researchers at UC San Diego. In the last 7 years, the way we consume information has changed significantly with the rise of Internet video. If we miss our favorite television show, we find the video online. If we are away from a television, we can catch a news broadcast from the networks dot com. As the Internet begins to replace television with sites like Hulu and Amazon Prime, we no longer need to pay a monthly cable bill (if we so choose). But television is not the only source of information that is slowly being replaced.

Since the creation of YouTube in 2005, we have become accustomed to searching for and discovering user-created videos that we never would have had the opportunity to see before this generation of technology. Much of this market includes how to videos. Now in 2012, you can learn how to do virtually anything by typing in how to into the YouTube search field. Ever want to learn how to make a paper crossbow? Me neither, but if you did, you could learn on YouTube.

Try this: type in how to on YouTube. The first video that comes up in the search is How To Be Ninja. While this may be a hilarious parody, the majority of these videos create a whole new platform for education. Maybe we wouldnt want to learn how to become an electrician or perform heart surgery with YouTube (please, DONT try this), but taking up a new instrument or learning to cook a gourmet meal is made more possible by this type of internet video. One no longer needs to take classes to do much of anything, short of receiving a degree (actually, many online college and university courses now use videos, but that only reinforces our point).

For years, our marketing team member Alison has wanted to learn how to play the guitar. With he busy schedule and lack of funds, she was never able to take guitar lessons and finally resigned to the fact that she would just never acquire that skill. However once she realized that YouTube hosted a slew of how to play guitar videos (there are hundreds), she regained hope. These classes could be watched on her time, at her pace, and for free.

Having a dinner party and want to learn how to make chicken parmesan or chocolate lava cake? Had you not taken a cooking class, you would probably be lost. But search how to make chicken parmesan on YouTube, and you could quickly learn in a pinch. Rather than taking two separate classes (Italian Cooking and Pastry-baking, perhaps?) and learning how to make several different dishes over a period of time, you could just hop online and customize your own cooking education.

This trend is so significant, that several sites have been created to focus solely on the how to trend. eHow, Howcast, Monkeysee, Videojug, and Howdini all feature experts who teach the world how to do everything from tying a tie (which is the number one "how to" seeked by men) to making a battery.

Arthur C. Clarke once said, If a teacher can be replaced with a machine, they should be. Dont get us wrong we strongly support going out and receiving an education, be it working towards a profession, or just for fun. But the real point is bigger than this. Internet video has made our lives easier and has made us smarter. We are able to receive more information, quicker. We arent quite in an age yet where machines are directly teaching us how to grow tomatoes, but we can use our machines to connect with those people who are choosing to be teachers for the rest of the world.

Communication technology today is designed around the two-way flow of information. People are no longer satisfied, or trusting, of one-way information systems like that employed by colleges and traditional education systems. They want to participate, contribute, and take ownership of content. They are most interested in letting their curiosity be their guide. -Thomas Frey, author of Communicating with the Future

The big question on our minds is this: is the availability of all of these videos causing us to be more curious? Or is our curiosity driving up the supply?