[iDC] Why do we need physical campuses?

Andreas Schiffler aschiffler at ferzkopp.net
Thu Jun 10 14:59:16 UTC 2010

I guess there is more to a physical learning environment than just a 
"perceived value": it is the real value of practical hands-on learning 
and the subtleties of person-to-person communications that go with it - 
the practical and sensorial learning which is hard to replicate in 
distance learning or VR. I believe that these traits inherent in 
physical learning environments are often treated as secondary when they 
should be an area of primary investment.

Such grandfathering may be due to a deliberate focus today on a 
preparation for the "information processing age" or it may be a 
financial or other resource constraints that limits the scalability of 
physical learning spaces. I think "online" should not be treated as a 
substitute but rather as an augmentation to supplement physical spaces 
to extend their reach in time and space.


On 6/9/10 1:18 PM, George Siemens wrote:
> 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.
> George
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