A college education is typically four years. Is there any reason why this length must remain the norm? The answer is a resounding “no.” Last year, I suggested the future of college may be $99 a month.

A few innovators are now offering college courses using a new, “all you can consume” model. In other words, instead of paying for courses individually (and by the credit hour), some on-line institutions are allowing students to take as many courses as they want within a specified time frame. This model allows students to finish college much sooner and on their own timeframe—rather than some artificial schedule.

There is an another reason why I believe this model is closer to what the future of education will look like. This past weekend the New York Times ran an interesting article entitled The Children of Cyberspace: Old Fogies by Their 20s.

The gist of the article is that technology is now moving so fast that it is creating “mini-generations.” For example, a college student who grew up in the FaceBook era now looks hopelessly outdated to her Twittering high school brother. And, not too soon, the brother will look equally clueless to his 7th grade sibling who is sure to adopt Kindle or whatever the next, new innovation may be.

One huge implication of technology acceleration is that the shelf life of some (but not all) knowledge is getting shorter and shorter. Why then spend a semester—or worse four years—learning something which will soon be obsolete?

Many courses will, by necessity, need to become shorter and high schools, colleges and universities must acknowledge this reality by offering courses more in tune with the future. This means shorter—but likely more intense—courses.

Rhetoric aside, education will also become a truly life-long endeavor; and unlearning will become just as critical as learning in the future.

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