I’ve been immersed in the world of online education for the last few months, and have been learning a lot of about the industry. I’m doing that in a number of ways, that can probably be used to better understand any industry.

To understand the current state of the industry:

  • Reading the most recommended books on the state of Education. I’ve started compiling an Amazon wishlist.
  • Talking to industry leaders to understand their understanding of the first principles of the industry, and understand the story of their organizaitons growth.
  • Spend time in meta-learning - learning how to best learn the space - by understanding the key nodes in the education system and how they interact with each other.
  • Talking to all participants in the value chain, but starting with end users because their demand fuels everything downstream.
  • Visualize and write about the way the system works - how one group of organizations creates customers for another, or the flow of dollars from one company to another.
  • Going through the app stores for the category - it helps understand what exists to day to solve some of the core problems in the industry.
  • Follow leaders in the space on Twitter to get a better sense of current problems, concerns and how the industry is connected to each other.

To understand where the future is going:

  • Understanding where venture deals are happening in the industry (and talking to foremost VC’s that invest in the space), which helps to understand where innovation is happening.
  • Talk to founders of new and existing startups in that space, at all stages from pre-seed to late-stage.