There’s a growing realization amongst the general population that the educational system is fundamentally broken. Designed for a historical need for industrial training, the modern system offers little in the way of real life skills, and serves only to deliver conveyer belt qualifications to satisfy government statistics. New online services such as Khan Academy, the MIT Courseware initiative and even TED Talks, go some way towards recognizing the problems with the system, but even those are not really enough to fix the poor state of modern educational offerings.
Skillshare is also not a complete answer, but what it does offer is a pointer to the future of learning services. The site provides a simple to use search and booking function for those who teach and those who are looking for skills. The use of the word skills is important here. This is not just an online classroom, but instead offers a way for seekers and providers to connect up and transfer knowledge efficiently.
While the booking and search is done online, the classes themselves are currently held physically in geographic locations. It’s pretty obvious though, that the long term aim is to provide a mix of physical and virtual classes, maybe using something like Google Hangouts to provide video tuition remotely to any corner of the globe. Khan Academy has proved it can be done, as has ChefHangout.com, so it’s inevitable that this form of distance learning is going to become a huge part of the educational landscape in the future.
One of the beauties of the Skillshare type of offering is the fact that it can focus not just on hard core subjects, but also cover life skills, which offer the kind of real world knowledge that can inspire and motivate people to improve themselves. For now however, the service is mainly just a booking channel, albeit a very nicely designed one. It will be interesting to see how this develops over time.