Trend to Watch: DIY-U Start-Ups

Bill Gates recently said, “Five years from now on the web for free you’ll be able to find the best lectures in the world” and online education “will be better than any single university.”

Over the past several months we have been monitoring the EduPunk and DIY-U start-ups. Unlike traditional and for-profit schools, these new start-ups are looking for ways to bring cheap or free education to the masses – an emerging trend to follow.

Let me explain. In August, Udemy announced they had raised $1 million in angel funding. This continues a trend of DIY-U start-ups receiving venture capital funding and further developing their growth strategies. Consider this: if Udemy is successful, it is conceivable that individual professors, teachers, educators, or people like Sal Khan will offer their own online courses independent of a school, college or university.

While these start-ups aren’t directly impacting colleges and universities right now, it’s probable that they will in the future.  At a high level, here are some issues to start thinking about as DIY-Us begin to enter the education space:

  • Competition – What type of lasting threat does the DIY-U model pose to the traditional education environment?
  • Partner/growth opportunities – Will colleges and universities find partnership opportunities with DIY-Us in order to grow online learning offerings?
  • Tuition revenues –What impact will DIY-Us have on tuition rates and associated revenues?
  • Accreditation – What credibility issues face students who ‘enroll’ in DIY-Us, and will this benefit or harm accredited institutions?

Many questions remain unanswered in the DIY-U space. What’s evident is the radical movement by many to offer alternatives in education. Our advice, stay the course, but proceed with a careful eye to the future and an open mind to incorporating learning resources. Something to think about.

Steve Winchester

Steve is the CMO at Helix Education. He has been an advertising account executive for more than 20 years. Steve received his BS from the University of Utah.