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School education vs online self learning

  1. Jul 25, 2013 #1
    With the internet as large and powerful as ever, YouTube videos with lectures and tutorials, what kind of fool would pay thousands of dollars to go to school and get a piece of paper that says their qualified when they can do it all in their own time for free?

    Goodbye tradition, public/private education and old systems
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  3. Jul 25, 2013 #2


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    those who want to get a job related to what they are studying.
  4. Jul 25, 2013 #3
    Potential employer: "What is your degree, and where did you study?"

    Person: "nah man I YouTubed that stuff"

    Potential Employer: "ah, I see. I totally believe that you are as qualified as someone who recieved a rigorous education from an accredited institution that has verified their understanding of the subject."

    This conversation has never taken place in our universe.
  5. Jul 25, 2013 #4
    Why is the title "Why are we still buying bottled water?" Is that a misleading?
  6. Jul 25, 2013 #5
    While it's true that the majority of information you can learn in school is available online, the hands on stuff you need to do isn't as easily available at home. Sure, you could buy all the equipment for doing all of the science labs you would normally do in a traditional school, but you may end up paying more for that stuff than that if you paid the tuition. Also, a lot of the time you won't know if what you're doing is correct without anyone to evaluate your work.
    And the piece of paper tells employers more than what knowledge you have. It tells them you dedicated a lot of time to something and finished it.

    Also, being part of a class is a lot more motivating to do the work than just casually browsing the internet searching for information. If I pay 500$ for a class, and I start falling behind, I try my best to get back to work and catch up. If my only source of education is KhanAcademy and such, I don't really have the motivation to watch the videos unless I'm really interested in mundane topics. When I'm part of the class, I must know certain things, and that gives me motivation. If I'm not part of a class, then I'll skip all the mundane stuff, because I'm not interested in it, then my education is lacking.

    There's too many reasons to list why traditional schooling is important and probably will never be replaced by people learning things just of their own volition.
  7. Jul 25, 2013 #6


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    The original title was too misleading (bottled water being a waste is a legitimate topic in its own right). Subsequently it's been changed. Back to the question...

    The are several reasons conventional education is superior to watching YouTube videos:

    - Quality control
    - Interaction with peers
    - Augmented learning via student/teacher interaction
    - Equipment use (and importantly safe use)
    - Practical skills (from experiments to presentations)
    - Credibility

    I've often come across this argument that we don't need schools now we have the Internet but that was true from the moment we invented mass media. Why didn't schools vanish 50 years ago? Books and vinyls could replace a teacher could they not? No, because a good teacher can adapt their lesson to their class and even individual students. This is fundamental to distance courses still, they may rely more heavily on recorded lectures but there's still a need for interaction with lecturers and participation in work groups.

    At the end of the day there is no evidence that YouTube learning is as good as conventional teaching. An interesting experiment would be to get two groups of students: put one through a conventional degree and give the other a list of topics needing to be covered with marking criteria. Make them sit the same exams and do the same coursework and see who comes out on top.

    EDIT: I forgot another important point: not everything is available online. An obvious example is non-open access journals.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2013
  8. Jul 25, 2013 #7


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    The best is probably to do both , but you should be careful where you learn your stuff on the internet.Try to find good mentors on forums who can suggest good books and help you along the way.This is how I'm doing it.
  9. Jul 25, 2013 #8


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    And as I've stated in my So You Want To Be A Physicist, there are TONS of stuff that you can never find between the pages of a book or in a lecture hall that you will learn as part of one's academic career. If you think that begging good advice on how to approach a problem, being able to attend academic conferences, getting ample practices to not only publish one's work but also to be able to present it orally in front of an audience of your peers can be found simply from watching these videos, you are awfully ignorant on what it takes to be a working professional in this field.

    BTW, I would volunteer to learn about surgery just from watching these videos. Will you be my first guinea p... patient for me to perform surgery on?

  10. Jul 25, 2013 #9
    Sorry about the title I was using an analogy since buying water is ridiculous imho (why pay for something you can get for free? unless you're in an isolated area with a lack of resources obv)

    If education was as good as you're proclaiming it to be, why do so many ppl fail/drop out of college? And the "hands on experience" argument reminds me of the logic against qualia (everything can be understood by language), one supported by science. It's a subjective matter, if you have the will to learn you'll learn. Explain George Green or Rene Descartes, both great mathematicians who were self-taught

    People waste years of their life learning subjects that will be absolutely irrelevant to them in their careers, bar none
  11. Jul 25, 2013 #10
    Obviously you'd have to be tested first, maybe using a certified virtual surgery simulation. If you pass, I'd be okay with it
  12. Jul 26, 2013 #11


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    This is logically flawed! What does "failure" have anything to do with something being good? In fact, the fact that the system HAD to failed people who did not meet certain standards means that it IS good! It is keeping out those who cannot perform at a certain standard!

    They are not physicists in TODAY'S world! I didn't realize that they used the internet (look at the original premise in this thread) already back then!

    I've described numerous examples of what you cannot get simply by listening or reading. You are telling me that you learn how to ride a bike simply by listening to instructions, and that very first time you got on it, you can ride it right away?

    Oh wait, you mean you want to TEST me so that I'm competent at a certain level? If I fail, does that mean that my online video studying is not so good after all?

    It is also funny that, here, you demand EVIDENCE that I can actually perform something. Yet, you offered no evidence that watching all these online videos and not going to school can actually produce a competent, knowledgeable person equal to those who graduated. Have you met a physicist who has the same ability simply by watching all these online videos and doing self-study? No? That means you've claimed something with no evidence to back it up, i.e. it is pure speculation.

  13. Jul 26, 2013 #12


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    You'd let someone perform surgery after watching YouTube videos and playing a simulation??? That's insane. I suggest doing as Zapper says and try to learn a part physical part mental skill just by watching videos. Do you think you could lead to drive? Ride a bike? Play piano? Why would you think someone could perform a safe and successful operation?
  14. Jul 26, 2013 #13


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    Some truths are self-evident.
  15. Jul 26, 2013 #14


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    Go for it! I for one, am not letting ZZ operate on me.

    I spent 6 years getting through 2.5 years of an EE degree. Nearly everything* I studied, I still use today. And I dropped out of school 30 years ago! I would expand, with an explanation of how my knowledge of thermodynamics optimized the lifespan of the ice cubes I took to the fair last week, but I would be late for work, so I won't: If you are late for work too many times, they will fire you, and you will not be able to pay your mortgage: Economics 101

    *With the possible exception of Philosophy. hmmm... On the other hand, that experience taught me to at least try and stay out of the Philosophy Forum at PF. :tongue2: I'm going to say that 100% of my university education served, and still serves, a practical use.
  16. Jul 26, 2013 #15
    You have some good points, i supposed i've been leaned a bit, but riding a bike and doing mathematics and physics is two different things (we don't go to school to learn how to ride a bike). My point should have been more specific - why go to college to learn maths/physics when you can get the books for free online and tutorials etc. and then you can test yourself using certified test papers and see how well you do

    i said only if he passes the virtual sim then it'd be okay

    Yeah I'm not qualified, I'm actually learning physics and maths in my spare time and this question came to mind

    philosophy forum?
  17. Jul 26, 2013 #16


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    Because learning with an interactive teacher is far better than without (forums are similar but I doubt there is a forum out there that can give the same time and dedication to students as paid faculty), there are many skills that must be learnt through practice and not observation (which may require expensive equipment) and not everything is free.

    There is no such thing as a medical simulator that can be used without extensive training and do anything more than supplement real practice. Let alone a free one.

    Can I ask have you ever been to university?
  18. Jul 26, 2013 #17
    Why has youtube made self learning more available than in the past?

    If one wants to self learn there are countless textbooks that already allow someone to learn material on their own without the passive approach that youtube allows.
  19. Jul 26, 2013 #18


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    Here's an article about that very thing. Given the impact this would have on many professors' careers and income, there surely is a bit of bias in the article.

    None the less, it makes some good points about the quality of instruction the students are getting.

    And if you're using the percentage of failures/drop outs as your measure of success, keep in mind that about 90% of MOOC students fail to finish their degree (at least via MOOCs).

    There is a very real difference between teaching a subject and merely presenting information.

    To be fair, just attending a class with a real professor doesn't mean you're being taught. There are many professors that are hired because of their research and the prestige they bring to a university. Many of those professors shouldn't be required to teach undergraduate courses because being a great scientist/researcher has little correlation with a person's abilty to actually teach.

    But there's still a much greater probability of being taught in a class attended in residence than of being taught by an online video.
  20. Jul 27, 2013 #19
    @Ryan m b

    Nah I havent I was but i can't afford it, seems ridiculous to me tbh. I work and study on the side with pdf textbooks I download online lol


    Yeah but youtube only came in 2005 and tutorials are only growing before you never had videos like that free to access


    Good points, but even if I wanted to go to college I'm too broke. This is where free youtube video tutorials and textbooks pdfs come in handy
  21. Jul 28, 2013 #20


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    But not being able to afford it does not mean that it has no value! You are confusing the two.

    No one here is saying that you can't learn something from these sources. You, however, are claiming formal education are useless, and can be replaced by these sources, without providing any valid evidence. People who do that in this forum WILL get severe criticism back.

    A degree in science, and certainly physics, involved a lot more than just reading books or attending lectures. I hire postdocs that have actual practical experiences. These are skills that you just do not get from reading books or listening to lectures. And as you have stated, YouTube and many of these sources are still very recent, meaning that you have NO EVIDENCE yet that they provide the SAME level of education. Claiming that they can has no logical and rational basis, and it makes you look bitter just because you can't afford it.

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