The future of Education and why I won’t teach courses at a college any longer.

For the last 5 years or so I’ve been lucky enough to travel the country and work with some incredible people at some amazing facilities.  I’ve helped set up studios large and small from a small auto parts manufacturer to a couple fortune 500 companies to one of the largest gaming and entertainment companies on the planet.  I’ve worked on some great productions and through all of those experiences I’ve learned how people learn, how they absorb information, and how to better build classes.

One of the key things I’m mostly passionate in my life is teaching and instructing.  I love sharing what I know and helping people through the different projects and skillsets.
In case you don’t know- Im a Adobe certified instructor that also works in Television at Wisconsin Public Television in Madison WI.  I used to love teaching classes at the local colleges but don’t believe its the right way to teach or learn right now and heres why-

As a student

One thing I’ve noticed first as a student looking to get into production, then an educator, is there is an evolution happening in schooling and production right now.  When I was taking classes, the onset of the DSLR boom was starting.  Additionally at this same time, HD was starting to get implemented into studios and pipelines.  It seems like everything was new. And for the most part it was.  In a classroom where all the machines were on MiniDV tapes, and we had 2 ingest stations, and mac pro towers loaded with Final cut pro 7, I was editing on my MacBook pro with my 60d and SD cards on a portable hard drive.  At the time the lessons we had were a bit outdated but I made the most of my time there.

Around the world I was watching people make amazing things and asked myself, how did they got those shots? How did they make those effects?  And time after time, my instructors didn’t always have the answers.  So I sought them out online. in 2010, there wasn’t much information out there, and the next best things were looking at seminars at local companies that had some decent information, never wanted to give away to many secrets, whether that was their special ingredients or perhaps it was a matter of not wanting more competition, I can’t say.  What I can say is that at the time, I felt schooling was leaving me without the tools I needed to get a job in the industry, and there wasn’t many resources to learn more that I was aware of.

I became obsessed with learning everything I could from places like Video Copilot and did as many of the lessons as I could, bumbling my way through it.  I would spend days trying to deconstruct shots, and reconstruct them to see what works and what doesn’t.  The advantage of learning on your own is you can pick what you want to learn and how much.

The Disadvantage is you may not know what you need to learn to understand other topics and lessons.

This was my main reasoning for going to school in the first place.  While I could bumble my way through it, chances are having a set path and lessons would expedite things.  As a student: The most valuable thing you have is time.  Unfortunately, for me, my particular school I choose was very poor in terms of skills and lessons, but I learned only after graduating and not being able to find work.  Afterwards I was left with no other choice other than really continue to learn on my own.  I became Adobe Certified, I got to work on some nationwide campaigns and decided to teach what I knew to help other people not make the mistakes I made.

As an educator

As an educator, I was able to develop my own lesson plans and build out tracks that made sense.  Starting with foundational elements, and building upon those.  And I was successful at it.  As I mentioned, I was flown across the country covering topics from: Asset management and VFX pipelines, to Motion Graphics to optics and everything in between.  I was working for the only Adobe authorized training facility in WI at the time, and also started teaching part time at the local colleges.

Over a summer, a former instructor and I developed a 5 day Movie Maker Bootcamp for teens.  Over 5 days, we took teenage kids and took them through a production from beginning to end. I joke that we covered more in that 5 days than in my years in classes, but thats not too far from the truth.  In addition to those classes every few month I would get class assignments asking to teach specific classes. And heres where the evolution I talk about kicks in.

My process for teaching a class was this:

  1. I was asked to teach some random classes (that usually had no curriculum or lesson plans) based on really obscure titles like “Video production for Mac”.  These were almost always written by a marketing person at the local school based on some other classes that may have been offered at one time.  The marketing people would have no idea what the class was, only that it was dates and times they needed to fill.  To their credit- how could they know the classes? They had to populate and sell hundreds of classes at the same time.  The point is there were literally hundreds of these at any given semester and we needed to sell sell sell.
  2. I would likely check my schedule months in advance and see if i could promise them those days and times.
  3. They would place it into a catalog
  4. I would be given 10 hours to develop a 40-class which then they owned all rights to. Many times this wasn’t possible to put together in 10 hours.  I was usually needed to shoot material for classes with my own equipment that alone took 10 hours.  Usually each 1 of my 20 minute youtube classes takes approximately 15 hours to write, and produce.
  5. They would list the class on a website and a printed catalog that went out to every person in certain zip codes.  Looking for a specific class or topic? It could be a daunting task as its just a single blurb about the class usually not written by the insturctor.
  6. Either the class would run or not.  More often than not, the class would most likely get cancelled, meaning the time I had already scheduled was now open, but I’ve likely missed other opportunities for freelance or private instruction.  So as a educator, now I’ve missed those other opportunities, and now scrambling to find other work to fill that time.  I would know usually within a 2 week notice.  If the class did run—-
  7. I had to go setup an hour before class unpaid, parking unpaid, and usually stay after unpaid answering questions.  When classes did run, almost always they would overfill classes which took away from other students, and the class as a whole.  In a specific example we had a cap of 11 students, and i had 21 enrolled.  that becomes logistically tough (as I had to supply the media to edit with, along with Sd cards for the students out of my own pocket.

Breaking down the time it took to build, schedule and teach a class I was making less the $6 an hour.  As a professional, this is unsustainable and I had little support.  In addition to myself having the time open up, I had many students write to me in frustration asking what other options they had since the class was no longer running what other options did they have to learn?

Which got me to thinking what if we could remove all of that?  The signups- the travel, the classrooms etc?

Im not saying that traditional classrooms are no longer relevant.  I have people argue and say : School is important! you wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you that watched youtube videos instead of going to school.  Which I’m not sure I agree with.  I don’t want a camera operator that never operated a camera before either!  I don’t think film production is on the same tier as medical school, but more and more classes are taught online nowadays anyway.  Very rarely does someone go right from watching a lesson plan that going on to do the same thing on a major television or movie production.  What I am saying is that school isn’t the only option anymore.  And theres a lot of red tape that goes into schooling in general.

Thats the main reason why I decided to launch my own site and training – AV ULTRA

My main goal was to look at that whole process of being thrown into a catalog, mass mailed out to people, who hopefully see the class they want in a long laundry list of classes, signing up, put money down, driving to class, sitting there, and driving home, and SAVE ALL THAT TIME AND EFFORT.

I went from teaching possibly 4-21 people in a week or two, located in a single classroom they had to drive to, a couple hours, to learn a key topic to literally anyone in the world.  What if they wanted more information? What if they wanted to repeat the class? What if they had follow up questions ?  In a classroom setting that just isn’t possible with a worldwide audience.

My main goal was to offer real world introductory training, better than any local university can offer, for absolutely zero cost.  The same classes that I charged thousands of dollars for, and give them all for free, to anyone in the world, at any time, as much as they want.

I waited 2 years to put the classes that I taught other companies online as I didn’t want them to feel they paid for free information, and now I reach tens of thousands of people all over the world.  I answer questions from students in Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and dozens more countries.

From an educator perspective, I have an unlimited audience, that costs me nothing to implement other than my time and it becomes a one time investment.  I have no “work email” that gets filtered.  people just ask me by leaving comments.

From a student perspective, in todays world of online learning, I can learn almost anything from the comfort of my own home for very little cost.  The trade off is the ceremony and space of a classroom.  As I mentioned, having a classroom is great for individual feedback and working through with an instructor in a  setting where you are “ready to learn”.  In my situation, my schooling was the single worst financial decision I ever made.  But my situation may be unique, and I’m sure there are great schools out there.

If you are considering schooling consider this:
1. I spent 3 years of my training also in charge of placement.  In those three years less than 5% of the graduates i met had the skills necessary to work in the industry due to the outdated materials in their classes.

2. Look up your instructors- if they are teaching editing or production, what have they produced lately?  Are they active in the local production communities?  I myself am always time lapsing my work, or posting things from the studio on my Youtube channels, or Instagram

3. Factor in the time and money it takes to get to class and the lesson plans- Are these things you can be learning on your own?

4. do they have good placement? in my schooling it was reported that 85% of graduates the year before me worked in the industry afterwards. In my class and the next 3 years less than 5% had placement in those years COMBINED.

5. would you learn more just working or volunteering for local productions?  For the cost of schooling and the debt along with it- you are paying to learn.  If you volunteer for a local company, you are learning for free, and likely from people actually working in the industry.

6. If a classroom setting is what works for you, what is their refund policy?  For all my classes I offer a 30 day no questions asked refund policy.  Can your school match that?  If you can’t find work in 1 year (or in my case 4 years) will they refund your payments?  Chances are slim.


In closing-
For the cost of 20-60 THOUSAND dollars, a free alternative that offers better lessons to me seems far more worth it.  Even if you are on the fence about taking a class, see the class offerings, see the lessons plans, and see if you can find that online first.  You might just save a lot of money, and a lot of time.

Looking for more about me and the stuff I do?

For lessons and classes-

My free tutorials-  AV ULTRA

My Facebook- Stanislaw Robert Luberda

My instagram- @Sluberda


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