The first consistent, repeated exposure to online education for a large group of the general population was during a global pandemic. Unfortunately, the first impression was not great. While it is often said that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, I think the reality is that online live-stream education will continue to iterate/improve.
In fact, within the next several months and ultimately over a 5-10 year period, the improvements will make online live-stream education a viable alternative or a compelling complement to in-person instruction.
While many people often think that personalities like Ninja came out of nowhere, the truth is he perfected his craft over a multi-year period. Not only that but he created a massive fan base in a market that many would not have predicted could attract an audience - video game streaming.
Although we can all appreciate the need for live-stream education due to the health and safety risks of in-person instruction, there are those who are looking around corners to see that this is not the only use case. In fact, there are educators who are not just looking at the balance of 2020 for the utility of this model. Instead, they are predicting the future and imagining what online live-stream education can become over the long term.
These innovators are identifying the gaps, shortcomings, complaints and are currently developing solutions to solve for these issues. In the coming months, they will pilot their ideas to a small but passionate group of students. These students will provide feedback to help these instructors improve.
Once they are ready for the broader student community, the changes they have made will appear obvious. However, make no mistake, these will be hard fought gains that are the result of an experiment driven approach that focuses on data to drive continuous improvement.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the upcoming changes because it opens up a ton of new possibilities for those who may not have had access to high quality live instruction in the area but can now tap into a superior solution due to the improvement within the online live-stream space.
So, why is Ninja an interesting case study for online live-stream education?
Ninja has successfully built an audience of millions. Regardless of the platform, he continues to pull his fan base to his streams. Education has historically been a local phenomenon. There are always a handful of teachers in each school that parents and students prioritize as the must have instructor. This limits the reach of these instructors to the students they teach each year. However, Ninja has figured out a way to educate and entertain his fan base of millions. Around the globe, there are likely any number of teachers who could broadly appeal to a similarly large base of students.
2. High Utility
For a long time, people didn’t understand the value of gaming. They thought that those who played games were lazy or wasting their time. What Ninja has shown is that being a successful gamer is not only a viable career option but is also a valuable form of entertainment. In addition to the development of fine motor skills, the cognitive skill development from strategy is extremely useful regardless of whether or not one pursues a career as a professional gamer.
In contrast while people already recognize the utility of education, no one has created an aspirational education brand. Given that the market for education is massive, the talent that figures out how to plug into this ecosystem while find enormous appeal.
One of the big challenges when doing anything is whether or not a sufficient infrastructure has been established. If Ninja needed to build a streaming service on his own that may have developed his rise considerably. Instead, he was able to plug into the infrastructure of Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer from a streaming perspective. He was also able to build a relationship with his audience through the rapid rise of social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.
In a similar manner, educators can utilize Zoom & Google Meet for live-streaming. And they have a parallel opportunity to humanize and build their brands on social media. There are also emerging education communities that are focused on providing instructors with the tools they need to be successful with live-streaming.
This foundation enables those who are talented in this space to focus on the high value aspects of their craft vs building the tools they need to execute upon their value proposition. By enabling their teaching to shine instead of the underlying technology infrastructure, it becomes a question of who is the best instructor not who built the best tools.
For industries that rely on talent, especially within education, there are going to be several examples of people pushing the boundaries of what people thought was possible for online live-stream education.
Despite the poor experience that most people had initially, the necessity of high-quality instruction will give most students and parents the willingness to give it another chance.
As they continue to engage, Ninja like talent will emerge that will have people quickly realize the massive potential and cause a whole wave of instructors to begin engaging virtually due to the huge scale benefits from the existing technology infrastructure. Watch this space closely in the coming months and years.