[iDC] Why do we need physical campuses?

George Siemens gsiemens at gmail.com
Wed Jun 9 20:18:34 UTC 2010

Stian wrote:

> There are many ways to provide cross-border education and training, and
> distance education is one, where the institution never leaves its country,
> and the student stays at home. There are interesting providers, for example
> the Indira Gandhi National Open University in India, arguably the largest
> university in the world (more than 2 million students) has study centres in
> 34 countries, often countries in the Middle East and Africa with large
> Indian populations!
Online learning makes sense for all kinds fo reasons: financial,
equity/access, scalability, etc. But...online (distance) learning is still
the unloved stepchild of education. Is the resistance cultural? Or related
to the perceived value of learning in physical spaces?

ICT has progressed enough over the last decade that I think we can largely
do away with the physical space of universities. Open Universities have
greatly impacted developing countries and the intellectually curious in
remote parts of the world (as is commonly cited, Nelson Mandela studied via
distance). If a government's goal, and the spirit of a society, is to
promote equity and broad access to learning, the online learning should be
an area of primary investment.

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