The world keeps changing quickly, and the infrastructure that helps prepare people to meet these changes is constantly evolving as well. Previous geographical limitations have crumbled as online learning has shattered the traditional educational path into a thousand accessible classrooms. The changes in education often involve intense discussions, and frequently delve into topics seemingly far removed from the “simple” act of instruction.

Soaring tuition costs are raising doubts about the value of a college degree. In countless debates, magazine articles and books, everyone is wondering if college is worth the debt and unemployment students face upon graduation. Surging enrollment in charters and MOOCs (massive open online courses) threaten century-old conventions. Meanwhile, universities are trying to catch up by offering their own online courses or aligning with start-ups like Coursera. Monoliths are out; the mosaic model is in.

It’s not just the classes that are changing, it’s also who’s filling them. The typical idea of a “student” is now irrelevant. Older adults are returning to the classroom, while life-long learners of every age continue their pursuit of knowledge well past the time most of us are returning our caps and gowns. Finally, there’s no defining age group, ethnicity or gender for DIY learners, who pick and choose from a wide-ranging menu of classes, from free to paid for, some in schools, some online, some for credit, some just for fun.


À la carte education (n.)

The explosion of education options beyond the traditional institutions, e.g., private, public, two- or four-year degree programs.


DIY learners (n.)

Students and educators who choose from a varied arsenal of educational products and processes that best suit an individual’s strengths and desires.

For more information on DIY learners, check out this article on O’Reilly Radar.


Education on wheels (n.)

Trucks that provide specific, niche-based educational materials to the public.

Examples: the Mobile Seed Library, SparkTruck, A47 Mobile Library

For more information about education on wheels, check out this article on Cassandra Daily.

Lack of skilled labor (n.)

The problem claimed by managers with open jobs but not enough qualified workers to fill them, despite the high unemployment rate.

Life-long learning (n.)

The pursuit of knowledge after the typical education years, for personal or professional reasons.

MOOC (n.)

Acronym for “massive open online course,” referring to online courses that are usually free and aiming for a large number of students.

Examples: the Khan Academy, Coursera

Welcome back Boomers (n.)

The trend of Boomers returning to college, either for the first time or to continue previous college education.

For more information on welcome back Boomers, check out this article on FOX Business.