A critical part of the shift towards resilient communities will be a radical reduction in core economic costs for individuals/families/communities through improvements in productivity and STEMI compression (less space, time, energy, mass, and information required for any unit of activity/production). The objective of this is cost reduction, over the longer term, will result in a radical improvement of the participants to produce wealth (thriving in a vicious and potentially stagnant or depression soaked global economy, and not simply surviving). This process wont just apply to economic activity, but to core activities like education. Let's dive into this.
- Lectures. Videos of lecture series, plus associated materials, are available for many courses at some of the best Universities in the world (i.e. see MIT's open courseware). Online videos are not only better than in-person lectures in many respects, they also allow you to get the best. There is no need to recreate the lecture with tens of thousands of less qualified/exceptional teachers.
- Application. As MIT is finding out, JIT (just-in-time information) in combination with simulated application of the concept to real scenarios is the best method for success. The advent of computer simulated virtual worlds for in the computer gaming industry have proven this combination (JIT info and immediate application) can train kids to adults in complicated and complex tasks in a fraction of the time other methods require.
- Collaboration. The business world is already shifting on online collaboration as a replacement for most in-person work (the economic crisis will only accelerate it). In my personal experience developing exceeding complex products, its possible to conduct the entire process from ideation to delivery online without any face to face contact (at great savings in time to direct expense). Unfortunately, this ability/skill/mindset isn't central to the educational world, despite the fact that students are currently doing much of this already in their private lives with social software.
- Local governments cut costs. Nearly or officially bankrupt local governments, out of desperation, opt to reduce costs through online education (the single biggest line item in most local budgets). Drawing from online home schooling systems, the market for these systems explodes (growing at several thousand percent a year).
- Entrepreneurial innovation. As student populations at the collegiate level dwindle due to cost pressures, a major University (with a brand as good as MITs or Harvard), opts to offer full credentials to online student (at a tiny fraction of the cost of being in attendance). Ten million students enroll in the first year to attend Harvard's virtual world.
- Open source alternatives. Unable to afford in-person education, the lack of a major brand in the marketplace, and a job market in free fall stunts the growth of online education. As a result, a massive open source effort develops to develop virtual worlds and other online courseware that rivals the best Universities. The government is forced, over the objections of established institutions, to confer credentials to graduates that pass standardized tests (in fact, comparisons quickly show that these graduates are the equal and/or better than traditionally educated competitors). The business world embraces them.