Customers hold knowledge about their own needs. Companies want to benefit by offering products or services that match these needs. Value co-creation tries to bridge this information asymmetry gap by engaging customers into the creation of value. The internet facilitates companies’ turn towards this direction by enabling the evolution of existing business models that traditionally excluded customer engagement, or by allowing the creation of new ones.
Skillshare, a company lunched in 2011, is classified in the second category. Numerous business posts do not hesitate to describe the company as a game changer in the education sector. Skillshare’s co-founder, Michael Karnjanaprakorn states: “The problem of education today is that is no longer about learning”. “All I’m doing in college is drinking, eating and memorizing things for exams that have nothing to do with real life.” As a graduate student himself, Karnjanaprakorn knows firsthand what it means to enter the job market without practical skills.
The missing link between education and learning is what initially motivated Karnjanaprakorn to create the company. Skillshare is an online platform for learning anything from anyone. Doers from all over the world introduce themselves and share their skills with anyone who is interested in them. Skillshare brings world’s diversity into a single platform resulting to dozens of different categories of online courses such as design, entrepreneurship, programming, culinary and the list goes on. Unlike other massive open online courses (MOOCs), Skillshare focuses on learning by doing. Thus, learning is not only about watching prerecorded videos. Interaction is a major part of the learning process and it is carried out by the completion of specific projects. Furthermore, PhDs are not a criterion for joining instructors’ community. The team believes that the best teachers are among people with no formal education at all.
Until 2014, instructors were able to set their own price for each course and a 12% fee was charged by the company. The average price that could be found was $20. In 2014 the revenue model altered to monthly subscription. “Hardcore” students were happy to see such a change, since they can save more than $75 per month according to company’s research.
But let’s return to the disruption. Do Skillshare and other types of MOOCs threaten traditional universities? According to Laseter (2012), universities do not provide their students with the necessary accoutrements for improving their chances when they apply for a skill demanding position. Education applicants will realize more and more this weakness of the conventional university and will focus on education that meets their expectations and guarantees future recruitment. Given the disruptive potential of the online learning, which Christensen (2011) also underlines in his book The Innovative University, in combination with the continuously increase of the tuition fees in traditional universities, it is expected that online educators will attract more and more students through MOOCs. Universities that consolidate rather than change the situation will lose large proportion of their market share in the future. What is your opinion?
Christensen, C., Eyring, H. (2011). The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education from the Inside Out. John Wiley & sons
Laseter, T. (2012). The university’s dilemma. Booz & Co