I have a slight obsession with pop culture so it does my heart good seeing a resurgence of ’80s and ’90s interest.

I was lucky enough to be around when must-see tv was really must-see tv. If you missed an episode of a show, you had to ask your friends about it or wait until it came up on re-runs. There was no pausing of live tv. When you went to the bathroom during commercials, someone from the living room would be screaming “It’s on, It’s on!!!!” when the commercials were over.

Movie openings were a big deal and the length of time a movie was in a theatre was finite. Once they were gone, they were gone. If you were lucky, the good movies were “held over”, meaning that they would stay in theatres a little longer. If you missed the run, then you would have to wait for close to 6 months before the movie showed up at the local video store. Don’t even get me started on how hard it was to get a copy of the hottest movie in the first few weeks it showed up on the shelves.

An album release was an event (I do miss this). You would eagerly await the arrival of your favourite band’s music (Vinyl, Cassette, CD; depending on the decade). When you finally got it, you would race home (or find a bench in the mall) and rip off the plastic, pull out the liner notes; behold the artwork, pour over the lyrics, read who produced it and where, guest artists, and my personal favourite, the “thanks to” section.

The times they are a changing

Now before you think this is just a nostalgic post about how good things were, I want to acknowledge that I know times have changed. Those days are gone. And yes, I will admit that it is bittersweet. We might not have the experiences that we did back then but we also didn’t have the access. In fact, there are some pretty amazing things that we have gained in this new age:

  • You can pause live TV
  • Movies are available to watch from home within a month of a theaterical run, if not the same day
  • We have access to almost every artist we could want to listen to on our phone, whenever we want.
  • You can pick the songs you like and make playlists to share with your friends within seconds.

We have more agency in our consumption of media than we have ever had before. We are now able to pick how, where, when, and how much we can watch/listen to. It is up to the consumer how we choose to interact with media.

So here comes the million-dollar question:

What does this mean for education, and specifically Higher-Ed?

If our students have agency in how they consume media, how long before they start demanding the same from their educational institutes?

Why should a student sit in a classroom listening to a lecture when they could find a YouTube video that covers the same topic (and probably better)? Added bonus is that they now can listen to it at 2X speed.

Instead of being forced into classes with people they never get to know, students are setting up discord servers and interacting with each other virtually. This can be done both synchronously and asynchronously. They are creating their own cohorts.

Already the cries are coming, “Why do we need to memorize and regurgitate information when I have access to it in my phone whenever I need it?”

Look, I don’t have the answers. The more I go down the rabbit trail, the more questions I have.

All I know is that the universe abhors a vacuum and if Higher-Ed is not having these conversations and coming up with strategies and processes to address the new paradigm, there is probably some high school/college kid who is.

It might be a cliched example right now, but academia is very much in the same situation that Blockbuster video found itself in the early 2000s. Blockbuster had a chance to work with or acquire a young upstart streaming service. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Netflix.

Are we going to end up a Blockbuster, or are we going to be a Netflix? This question haunts me.

Anyways, I gotta go, my brother is screaming at me from the living room that Seinfeld is back on.

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