This morning’s post about teaching online got me to thinking about the nature of brick-and-mortar colleges versus online universities. These are just stream-of-consciousness questions at this point — discuss them in the comment section.
- Is the university today really just a de facto online university, due to the widespread use of communications and course management technology (including email, IM, CMS software, etc.)? What real academic purpose does the traditional model of regular face-to-face classroom interaction serve any more?
- What real academic purpose does a campus serve today? Is there a legitimate academic value in having a residential campus? Is the concept of living on campus mainly used as a means for engaging in non-academic behavior such as sexual promiscuity, binge drinking, etc.? If you removed the residential campus from the equation of the traditional university, what exactly would you lose, and would the loss of positive elements be compensated by the loss of negative elements (sex, alcohol, etc.) and the addition of new positive elements (flexibility, lower housing costs, etc.)?
- Does the university have a legitimate calling today to educate students socially? Are traditional sources of socialization in college being supplanted today by online social networking and the students’ pre-existing social structures (family, friends from high school, etc.)?
- Fill in the blank: An online university is inherently less effective in educating students than a traditional brick-and-mortar university, because ______.
Like I said, discuss in the comments. I’ve got no agenda here, just wondering.
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