Teachers are the new DJs
Leveraged by technology, individual professors will transcend their universities. They’ll create distinguished, one-of-a-kind personal brands, fueled by intense fandom. They’ll speak with chromatic energy, they’ll prize simplicity, not complexity, and they’ll be prolific, polarizing, and personal. The best teachers will become celebrities.”
But why DJs?
We see a strong parallel emerging. The skills, tribes, and culture DJs brought to the table in the music & entertainment world match closely with new forms of learning, particularly those powered by the internet.
The new breed of teachers are to education what DJs were to music.
Here are a few of the commonalities:
- Less likely to have formal training, especially as they get started
- Learn by doing
- Remix and reimagine existing content
- Closely collaborate in tribes
- Take risks
- Experiment with new technologies, spaces, and places
Over time they will also:
- Take on formalized training later in their career rather than at the beginning (in line with the concept of lifelong learning of course – very meta)
- Branch out into partnerships with traditional professionals in the field, and create new genres and styles that didn’t previously exist
And like the emergence of DJs in the 80s and 90s, they’ll be questioned by the existing establishment, shunned as being novelty or inauthentic, and forced to take a less traveled and less glamorous path until they’re eventually accepted and celebrated.
Hip hop has followed a similar trajectory, with a few waves of highs and lows, before its most recent surge into the mainstream via the power of services like Soundcloud and Spotify.
Why this trend matters
Much of the education system is fundamentally broken. Content is outdated and unengaging. From quirky TikToks to full-tilt university alternatives, teachers of all generations and backgrounds are branding themselves as the future of education.
Topics that were previously seen as dull are being transformed, and a new breed of teaching talent is emerging across the globe.
Businesses can capitalize on this trend by creating immersive experiences with the perfect teacher for their employees, creating more exciting and dynamic work environments.
Let’s take a look at some examples currently in rotation...
In Action: Teachers are the new DJs
Section4 is built on the belief that millions of workers need help to stay competitive, yet not all have access to, or interest in, costly graduate school programs.
Starting as a vehicle for founder Scott Galloway to flex his muscles as a headline teacher (he’s also a prominent author, podcaster and TV host), the company has now built a roster of teacher talent delivering 2-3 week long ‘sprints’ for upwards of 1000 people each time.
If Teachers are the new DJs, perhaps Section 4 is one of the leading independent record labels. Over time, we wonder if we’ll see them follow the path of some of their music contemporaries - by getting into the festival business.
@iamthatenglishteacher, Claudine James, is a National Board Certified Teacher with a passion for inspiring students both in and out of the classroom. She has created a brand around teaching everything English - from grammar rules to tips for essay writing. Students and professionals alike love learning from her. Her informative yet fun TikToks have attracted a following of over 3.2 million people.
A lot of people think of DJing as a young person’s game. But many of the world’s biggest DJs are into their 50s (and beyond). It makes sense - they’ve spent decades honing their craft, and building up a deep library of ideas to synthesize and share.
The same is true for the Teacher DJs. One example is Rishad Tobaccowala, former Chief Growth Officer at Publicis Groupe.
His eclectic weekly newsletter combines thoughtful ideas for the future of work and learning with curated artworks, and his live workshop repertoire spans almost a dozen topics and genres.
Mmhmm is a video presentation app to make online interactions like meetings, courses and workshops more engaging and expressive, rather than just using shared desktops and PowerPoint.
The app acts as the controls for the backgrounds and effects you’re using or the presentation you’re giving, regardless of which video platform you’re using. There are features like co-piloting so you can work with a partner, a range of ‘rooms’ to present from, and some quirky filters.
When used effectively, mmhmm has the potential to transform a webcam into a portable studio, and elevate presentations to feel more like a TV show. If Teachers are the new DJs, this is one piece of gear worth taking on tour.
Key Themes for Edutainment 3.0
New Creative Tools
Tools like Ableton Live and Splice have made music creation an order of magnitude more collaborative and accessible. We believe the same will happen for teachers, and those who can master the these new creative tools will find themselves at a huge advantage. We’ve already mentioned mmhmm. Here are two more of our favorites:
- Butter: a super-smooth tool for making workshops more engaging and memorable
- Gather.town: a customizable space for communities to gather, complete with a 90s video game vibe
From Instructor to Facilitator
Much of the current paradigm is still set around instructing. The teachers of the future will be more like facilitators - enabling flow, collaboration and exploration. The best will also develop the narrative creation skills of in-demand keynote speakers. We call this shift ‘moving to the middle’.
Personalized teaching & relationship building
Connecting the two previous themes is a focus on personalization and real relationship building. Personalization has already been a huge trend when thinking about consumers, but it cuts both ways - the DJing teachers need more personalized experiences and tools for them to thrive.
In Action: Ones to Watch
The future of education is... Kanye West? That’s right, he’s opening a school in California called The Donda Academy. Its mission is "finding the intersection between faith and the innovation of the future.”
Admission will have no cost, and prospective students can already apply to enroll. Kanye has recruited top high school basketball players (via Instagram DMs) to join Donda, and Adidas is on board to supply the apparel.
Screen time, reimagined. Hellosaurus is an interactive story platform that uses a kid's imagination to fuel epic story-driven adventures. Kids are the co-stars to some of the most popular creators in the world and become curious explorers, creative innovators, and confident heroes. This platform unlocks an entirely new way to play and learn. We see plenty of opportunity to bring some Hellosaurus vibes to adults, too.
Beducated is the Netflix of Sexual Education. Its goal is to improve the sex lives of its customers by offering online training for all kinds of love life-related techniques and practices. With Sextech and Sexual Wellness on the rise, what often gets lost is education and communication. Beducated bringing the best of both to its platform.
At first glance, it’s a MasterClass knock-off. But what makes Monthly stand out is the fact that it isn’t just a playlist of educational videos. Its offerings dive deeper into interesting niches with real applications. Students get a hands-on learning experience and a supportive community. One great example is Mark Rober’s course to help you become a creative engineer.
Starting life as ‘FutureDJs’ this educational platform supplements schools’ traditional music syllabus with MC, DJ, and production lessons. They introduced the world’s first-ever graded DJ exams and trained teachers on how to be confident when incorporating modern music into their lesson plans. This expanded through Virtuoso – an interactive learning environment that simulates a physical music classroom. It allows students of all grade levels and locations to experience real-world teaching using music
Guidelines for Greatness
- Edutain, but encourage remixing and reflection too
- Co-create, feed off the vibe and knowledge of the audience and build a bespoke experience.
- Look for the sweet spot between telling and facilitating. Don’t be the Sage on the Stage or the unrelatable EDM demigod with an ego to match. Create an inclusive scene
- Read the crowd and remember that everything you put into the mix is for the benefit of their experience.
- Beware the platforms: Many DJs and musicians have a tricky relationship with platforms. Whether it’s Instagram or TikTok, Spotify or Patreon, lock-in and dependency can be a high price to pay for distribution and visibility. For the Teacher DJs, this challenge may manifest through a rise in gig economy platforms. Of course, everyone wants to work, but these platforms often create a race to the bottom, with the only real winners being the platforms themselves. Successful DJs and teachers root themselves in their craft and a peer community.
On Tour - HyFlex style
Virtual Studios along with an increasing desire for meaningful in-person experiences offer opportunities for teachers to hit the (virtual) road and fill their calendar with global gigs, just like their DJ counterparts. We see the concept of ‘HyFlex’ (Hybrid Flexible) being important here: combining async online, in-person, and sync online to create one-of-a-kind learning journey.
In some respects this is already happening, but just as DJs began doing sponsored tours and becoming ambassadors for particular products or technical gear, we’ll see teachers being paid to pick up new skills and repackage their learnings to their audience.
- Personalization and relationship building takes time. You can’t expect massive engagement to happen overnight.
- Serving people first means you have to admit you’re not the smartest person in the room. Don’t let your ego get in the way of creating effective Edutainment.
- New creative tools take time to learn and master. Don’t rush the process. Publishing content using these tools that feels awkward or disjointed risks having a negative effect on learning.
Spark Your Creativity
Ideas to jumpstart your imagination and help you include Edutainment 3.0 in your endeavors.
- We’re very excited at the prospect of Edutainment 3.0 festivals. These will take the best elements of the Experience and Transformation Economy, add active learning opportunities, and blend in high grade live entertainment. If you were the festival promoter, who would you book on your dream lineup?
- How could you create an impact on learners by moving from the role of teacher to that of facilitator? How could any gaps be filled?