Another dot in the blogosphere?

Unbundling education

Posted on: February 6, 2015

Recently I met someone who asked me what I did for work. After I told him, he concluded that I had learnt to “unbundle” my services. I had never thought of my work like that before.

I offer to partners and clients what they need from me. I can be a consultant only, an evaluator only, a facilitator only, a speaker only, and so on. They do not have to buy a consultant, evaluator, and facilitator when they only need a speaker.

The future of work might involve unbundling one’s services, just like other systemic trends linked to technology.


Software applications have unbundled so that each mobile app now offers a smaller subset of features of what used to be a larger application.

The music industry was disrupted when people could buy and download individual audio files instead of entire albums. This gave people what they wanted and helped them save money in the process. The music industry had (and still has) to adjust to this change.

The same thing is happening to the traditional publishing industry, which is reeling from the wide availability of information online. It is being challenged not only by multimodal and open resources, but also by consumers wanting only parts of their publications.

Schools and institutes of higher education offer prepackaged do-it-all and just-in-case curricula or programmes. These institutions cannot move fast enough to offer timely and relevant material. Learners seem to have little choice but to be part of this outdated system.

It might take a while, but the same unbundling is already happening in the educational arena.

Home-schoolers are unbundling aspects of traditional schooling and rebundling them with online, local community, and other resources. Private tuition, be it for enrichment or for remediation, is unbundled schooling in that the coaching, personalized teaching, and tailored strategies are offered to those who seek them.

I can imagine an extreme where one educational agency provides content, another coaches, another grades practice, and still another implements exams. We already have elements of these in modern educational contexts, so the idea is not far-fetched.

Unbundling meets the needs of stakeholders. Unbundlers constantly reinvent themselves and move faster than bundlers. The time of the niche market is now and long may it last.

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