Bicycles, gears, and the future of education

At the recent GROW Conference, I caught up Aidan Nulman of Fleetbit. We were talking about one of Version One’s portfolio companies…Talentbuddy. If you’re not familiar with Talentbuddy, it’s a platform where programmers can post and solve programming challenges, covering all different areas and difficulty levels. It’s exercise for a programmer’s brain.

During our discussion, Aidan reminded me how Steve Jobs once described computers as the bicycles of the mind, referencing a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion. On our own, humans are way down on the totem pole compared to others in the animal kingdom when it comes to efficiency of locomotion. However, put a human on a bicycle and he or she is the most efficient creature out there.

Jobs’ point was that we’re tool builders. According to him, the computer is the most remarkable tool we’ve ever come up with and “it’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.”

Aidan took this comparison one step farther, saying: “Minds, like bicycles achieve massive efficiency gains as you ascend to higher gears. [At the same time], impactful education products seem to come from a focus on either adding an ever-higher gear, or on easing the transition to the next-highest gear.”

And that perfectly sums up the future of education, learning, and the Internet. The Internet is making it easier and easier for people to find just the right gear. Through the Internet, we will have more gears available than ever before; we will have higher gears available than most people ever had to access to; and people and platforms will help us know when it’s time to switch from one gear to another.

It is exciting times in online education.

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