Marginal Revolution University
By Bryan Caplan
Big news: My beloved friends and esteemed colleagues Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok are launching their own online education project, MRUniversity. Since I don’t think online education is going to revolutionize education (here, here, and here for starters), my knee-jerk response is to quote Seymour Skinner: “Prove me wrong, kids! Prove me wrong.”
My real view, however, is that MRUniversity is going to do very well for Tyler, Alex, and the world. A business idea doesn’t have to precipitate a revolution to add tremendous value. Even if online education tops out at 1% of the higher education market, and MRUniversity captures 1% of that 1%, they’ll be rich. And it wouldn’t surprise me if they can do better in less-developed countries, where conformity norms don’t work so heavily against them. Even if MRUniversity never makes a dime, moreover, it will supply the public good of economic education that the world so sorely needs.
In the end, though, I predict that Marginal Revolution University will be a lot like Marginal Revolution itself. It won’t be a strong substitute for brick-and-mortar education. It won’t directly make a lot of money. But it will breathe new life into the timeless subject of economics – and be a profitable loss leader for two very entrepreneurial economists.
P.S. Don’t miss Tyler and Alex’s online Development Economics class, premiering October 1!