Our Gutenberg Bible Moment

The course of history was changed in the mid-1450s when Johannes Gutenberg published the bible in a new form. He printed it with movable type allowing for multiple copies to be produced in a short span of time. It established the printing press which created the ability to mass-produce books at lower costs so they could be widely distributed. 

This single event shifted the knowledge and interpretation of written content from clergy and noblemen to the common person who could then evaluate what was written from their own perspective. People could think for themselves and seek to shape their own futures when opportunity allowed. It is still considered one of the most significant events in human history. 

We are in the midst of our own “Gutenberg Bible Moment.” 

Rather than the printing press, it is the internet. We now have the ability to educate ourselves on any subject, anywhere, at any time and any age. In fact, with the exponential growth in technology, many of the top skills needed for the most in-demand jobs (like blockchain, cloud computing, and UX design) are primarily acquired via online classes. 

For a fraction of the cost, we can now take classes from top universities in the world like Harvard, Yale, and Oxford on education platforms such as Coursera and edX. Udacity partners with businesses to offer courses for their most needed skillsets. All of these offer new types of degrees and certificates at affordable rates with significantly less time required than traditional college credentials. 

As of December 2019, there were over 110 million people taking advantage of a new option for learning called MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses)–a significant growth from the 160,000 users when first introduced in 2012. The MOOCs are not the only ones in the field. New platforms are continually being introduced by corporations, technical trades, universities, and many others.

During the pandemic, my youngest daughter taught herself to sew on YouTube and has started designing a clothing line. My brother-in-law taught himself blockchain on the internet and just launched a new company. The woman who developed my website and does all my social media is entirely self-taught using the internet. 

Just like when the Gutenberg Bible introduced the printing press, we are ushering in a new era of opportunity. Information and data are being generated faster than our traditional education systems can keep pace. This has driven demand for new skills-based online programs that offer alternatives and supplements to traditional college degree programs. Not only does this broaden the educational pathways available to our children, but it affords us the same potential as well. We can now learn new skills, expand our networks, and chart a new course for ourselves in this modern age of technology. The world is literally at our fingertips. Are we ready?

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