Bubbling through college

Bill Gates says college will be obsolete in 5 years:

Five years from now on the web for free youll be able to find the best lectures in the world, Gates said at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA today. It will be better than any single university, he continued.
He believes that no matter how you came about your knowledge, you should get credit for it. Whether its an MIT degree or if you got everything you know from lectures on the web, there needs to be a way to highlight that.

Glenn Reynolds says higher education is a bubble that is set to burst:

So my advice to students faced with choosing colleges (and graduate schools, and law schools) this coming year is simple: Dont go to colleges or schools that will require you to borrow a lot of money to attend. Theres a good chance youll find yourself deep in debt to no purpose. And maybe you should rethink college entirely.

What to do? Colleges can’t keep giving the same product and expect it to work much longer; their monopoly on granting credentials has already started to break for many business and professional fields. Bill Gates is the largest shareholder of one of the countries largest high-tech employers. If they can find a way to get talent faster, saving their recruits tens of thousands of dollars in the process, that gives them a huge advantage.

College needs to be better. The “best lectures in the world” aren’t good enough. Happily, there are some other things that we also do well.

I think Gates may be on to something here:

One particular problem with the education system according to Gates is text books. Even in grade schools, they can be 300 pages for a book about math. Theyre giant, intimidating books, he said. I look at them and think: what on Earth is in there?

The best instructional books I’ve learned from, and which I go back to, are consistently short. Short enough that a person can learn everything in them, and can remember which pages are where.