Who Are “The Disconnected”?

disconnected_copper.serendipityThumbI’ve been thinking lately about a group of people I call “The Disconnected.” They include some sub-groups, such as the “cord-cutters.” Cord cutting, in a telecommunications context, is the practice of stopping your cable or satellite television service or getting rid of a landline phone. When it comes to cable and satellite services and phone carriers, cord cutters drop them in favor of less expensive options (individual channels like HBO Go, packages like Hulu or TV and video on the Net) and just owning a cell phone or using VoIP (voice over IP).

The main goal of cord cutting seems to be saving money. But there is also a lot dissatisfaction with what is offered on traditional TV services.

This is a broader trend in technology us, but because I am also interested in education, I am wondering if there is some overlap here.

The disconnected aren’t only disconnected from TV and phone lines. They are a group that rents and leases and don’t want to own. They don’t want to own a car or shelves of CDs or physical books and magazines. They are building a sharing economy.

They comprise about 25% of Americans, and according to Forrester Research that number will double in the next ten years.

I bet you are thinking that these are the Millennials. Yes, Millennials are certainly a good number of “The Disconnected,” but the age group is widening up and down.

The disconnected encompass the potential students in our undergraduate and graduate programs. The younger age group is being labeled the “cord nevers” because they have never been connected to these traditional forms of media consumption and services and have no plan to ever be connected to them.

Forrester Research reports that “By 2025, 50% of all TV viewers under age 32 will not pay for TV as we understand it today.”

Will cord-nevers and cord cutters also have a different attitude towards college? I think so.

MOOCs, alternative degrees, self-determined learning and other movements are already ways of cutting cords to traditional education.

I am preparing this topic for a keynote at the Rutgers Online Learning Conference in January 2016, and I would love to hear your comments.

 

first posted at Serendipity35

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