I know that the best teachers are on the internet, and I’ve personally learned more from “Internet College”, than all of my time during all four years in undergrad. It comes down to structural issues, not competency or character flaws of the existing teachers & professors.
“You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”
― Good Will Hunting
Over the past 8 years, I’ve learned all these topics (plus more) from teachers on the internet:
- Polyvagal theory
- Financial markets
- Computer science
- Higher education
As a by-product of this “custom college” journey, I took my income from $45,000 to $80,000 dollars in just 9 months. I cured a decades-long bout with depression and suicidal ideation, learned how to date ethically, and had my first girlfriend girl as an adult as a direct result.
I didn’t need to sit inside a classroom in Cambridge, MA to get a world-class education, it was always right here at my fingertips. I just needed to find it. You can too.
Creating Education Alternatives For Internet Natives
Our collegiate system was built in the 20th century, for the 20th century.
I want to build something else.
I’m building something else.
That’s why I’ve started Unbundled; a marketplace for Higher Education alternatives. A digital space where you can buy a custom college experience with skills-based training. On the internet, for the internet.
But before I shill you my startup harder, let me lay out why I think teachers on the internet can build a better system compared to the current higher education system we have.
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
– Mark Twain
Why The Best Teachers Are On The Internet
#1 – Feedback Loops
Teachers on the internet improve their material because of fast and tight feedback loops. They publish in the open and get direct feedback on their arguments, logic, and their communication style in real-time.
So even if a professor has a higher level of understanding of the material, an online publisher will elevate their thinking and delivery of their lessons at a faster clip.
Imagine if there are two athletes trying to become better at baseball. John and Paul. For every 100 swings John takes, his coach will pause the batting practice, then communicate how he can improve in real-time, then he continues to take 100 more swings. Wash, rinse, and repeat.
Then there’s Paul. Paul has no feedback. He continues to swing thousands of times or even tens of thousands of times behind closed doors. Perhaps Pauls is even a better athlete than John, but he can’t see his own blindspots and won’t improve his craft at the same rate.
Most professors teach behind closed doors and don’t get public market feedback. No one is showing them their blindspots. This has nothing to do with character or talent, it’s simply an improvement methodology that can help any human better themselves in any subject.
#2 – Creative Freedom
Teachers & Professors have a default (and usually fixed timeline) they can teach in. 45-minute High School classes, 90-minute lectures, etc.
Yes, they can leverage other types of media just like online teachers, but that’s not their default. Their default is teaching in person in a lecture hall or classroom, then they can choose to create lessons and material using creative freedom.
When you’re an internet native, you have nearly complete freedom. You can make a TikTok that’s 17 seconds long because you believe that’s the best way for your students to retain the knowledge you’re conveying. Or you can do a 4-hour-long podcast. Or you can write a 2,000-word long article.
#3 – Customization For Students
We all learn by analogy. We draw metaphors and connections to material we already know. For example, if you’re a software engineer trying to learn psychology, you’ll learn that domain quicker if your teacher uses computer science metaphors when talking about the mind.
Even if professors are more knowledgeable in a subject, they can’t compete with an infinite number of online teachers who can teach from an infinite number of angles.
#4 – The Pool of Competitive Teachers Keeps Growing
Anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can teach their expertise.
There are over 135,000 college professors, but how many content creators and teachers are there? Hundreds of thousands? Millions? This number will only go up.
When your competition increases by an order of magnitude the quality of the 90th percentile skyrockets.
If my High School lacrosse team also allowed athletes from all of Erie County to try out, there would have been zero chance I made the team.
Imagine if the only professional sport was CrossFit. How many of the current top champions wouldn’t have medals? Shit, would Rich Froning and Matt Fraser even make it past Regionals if they were competing against Adrian Peterson, Derrick Henry, and LeBron James?
Furthermore, the revenue from teaching online is basically uncapped. If you are the most entertaining High School math teacher that also publishes online you can 100x your salary from your employer. And more money brings in more talent. This competition pool will only go “up and to the right”.
#5 – Skin In The Game Leads To Expertise
Watching YouTube videos of the CrossFit Opens won’t allow you to internalize physical fitness as well as actually do the push-ups and squats.
Watching porn won’t make you better sex just as well as reading about supply and demand won’t teach you it as well about running a small restaurant.
An owner of a small cafe may not know the term “price signals”, but I bet you that they’ve internalized what happens when supply outstrips demand because they’ll go bankrupt if they don’t.
The same goes for teachers. Online markets have “sandboxes” with real-time data that allow them to get better at marketing which allows them to communicate their ideas better and have better material in general.
Riddle me this, who would you rather learn the business from, an Entrepreneur who built and sold a business for $100,000,000 or a professor who has been in academia their whole life and hasn’t built a business let alone grown one?
Why Most People Don’t “Get It” Yet
The public misses this because they see all the hot garbage that comes out of the internet as well. Here’s the thing, they’re not wrong about the garbage.
But the internet increases variance as Balaji Srinivasan likes to say. So it increases the low-quality content and less educated teachers but it also increases the number of geniuses who publish online. So as smarter original thinkers continue to publish online, so do people who put out low-quality ideas. It becomes increasingly harder to decipher signals from noise.
The extremes keep multiplying, but because you have to be self-directed in your learning to sift out the signal (good thinkers/teachers) from the noise (poor quality content) most people are blind to the revolution of learning that’s occurring on the internet.
It takes work to create your own “custom college” experience, but the ROI is there if you’re willing to get out of your sifting pan to find the digital gold.