Another dot in the blogosphere?

A lesson from a Christmas present

Posted on: December 24, 2014

A few weeks ago, my wife wanted to replace her pair of Jays earphones because one side no longer worked. It was as loud a hint about a possible Christmas present as I could hear.

We visited an Atlas store (they sell high end systems like Bose) intending to try a few lower end earphones.

Bose QC20i noise cancelling in-ears by houbi, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License   by  houbi 

My wife tried the new Bose QC20i and was hooked. Not only was the sound exceptional, it noise-cancelled the rest of the world out with the flick of a switch.

The problem was these things did not come cheap. They were listed at S$499 at the store with a “generous” Christmas discount of S$20.

I knew that the marked up prices for headphones and earphones in Singapore stores were ridiculous, so I went online.

To make a long story short, I found a reputable seller on eBay who offered a brand new pair of QC20i for about S$150 less. This price included shipping from the USA. The total cost was even less than Amazon was selling them for.

I paid less for the same high quality product by doing my homework online. I wanted buy something and someone else was willing to sell it to me for a more reasonable sum.

A recent article in Today highlighted how Uber matched riders with drivers for a fee and could bypass traditional taxi services. There were fewer regulations and the rider might take on more risks, but the service gave people what they wanted. The writer of that article suggested that the same thing could happen with “students needing tutoring on specific subjects being matched up with professors anywhere in the world willing to teach them”.

Now and in the future, learners can Uber their education. They can find and shape their own education for much less than premium schools and universities are offering. What they create for themselves will be no less authentic, useful, or valuable.

Like Uber, customizing your own education is not a smooth ride at the moment. The incumbents cry foul and push back. But when the dust settles, perhaps a Christmas or three from now, I hope a new landscape emerges: One that allows learners to give themselves the education they desire.

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