Online Education Impacts Campuses – 2017

Equivalent of 500,000 undergrads are only online

Is traditional undergraduate campus building space being made less necessary by online education? Yes.

The growth of online education is depressing the need for the brick and mortar of campuses just like online sales are reducing the need for retail space. In fall 2015 the scale of the undergraduate impact was      12 Arizona States or          52 Harvards.

 

So far more than 23 million square feet of traditional campus space has been obviated by online education. This space is existing and unbuilt.

  • Existing – excess space that is no longer needed; and
  • Unbuilt – space that need not be built.

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Neuroscience and Campus – Memory and Place

tower-stair-2Memory has been tethered to place by human evolution. Campuses have been among these places for more than a thousand years.

The Question  As students and teachers swim further into the digital stream of online education and simulated reality, will place continue to matter?

This question has taken me far beyond the disciplines of brick and mortar. Higher education, sociology, cultural anthropology, student life, academic business, learning analytics, neuroscience and artificial intelligence have all been on my reading list.

My research is not complete, but my tentative conclusion:

For centuries, campus has been part of the standard paradigm. It has always been there – a setting, not a participant. The future of the campus in the learning enterprise depends on being re-designed to be an agent, a necessary supportive ingredient, not just being there.

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Online Impact on Campus

ImpactIs it possible that online courses will have no impact on the future of the campus?

Let’s look at the data. More than 25% of college students are taking at least one course online. Paring that down to traditional 4-year undergraduates, the equivalent of more than 400,000 full-time students are not in the classroom. This is the equivalent of 8 Arizona State Universities or 40 Harvards. Continue reading

University of Uber / Airbnb

GT.chaos.1.baseWhat are the Uber or Airbnb equivalents of the university? These are the questions Tom Fisher thinks campus planners should be asking.

We are at the trailing edge of six decades of campus facilities expansion. The resulting mix of assets can be a rich foundation on which to rebuild and right-size sustainable institutions, or part of an unsustainable burden that helps to sink the rest.

In a recent interview, Fisher argued for rethinking many of the assumptions of the physical campus.

The campuses we have inherited are way too big. I know that seems odd, because when you are on a campus everyone is crying for more space, but we have a lot of highly specialized space that goes under-utilized…the faculty office being one of the more notable ones. Increasingly faculty are carrying their office in their laptop and cell phone. So this idea of having a room set aside for yourself is really antiquated. Classrooms are changing. They will still be used, but the whole campus is a teaching environment. The whole city and region is a learning environment.

The Challenge for SCUP and Campus Planners

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Campus Shaping Forces – Dan Kenney

Dan Kenney Headshot.2Evolving cultural forces shape campuses generation by generation. In a recent conversation Dan Kenney, co-author of Mission and Place and I discussed these forces.

Founding campus visions may have defined an initial ideal core, but these institutions are not static. Demographic surges of post WWII, baby boomers, and their echoes have changed the functional scale of institutions. Suburbanization and the need for ubiquitous parking have pushed campus boundaries. Big science, big sport and their massive buildings have morphed the character and experience of campuses.

Dan has worked in this swirl of forces on more than sixty campuses. He believes in the continuing value of campuses and sees new opportunities in increasing environmental resilience and recognizing technological adaptation.

This conversation and those with other thought leaders can be found at the campusmatter.net YouTube channel.

Future of the Campus in a Digital World

2 by 1 by 3As the need for synchronous place and time evaporates, the physical campus must provide values that are not available by other means. Campuses need to be transformed as if their survival were at stake.

Future of the Campus in a Digital World. is my assessment of the state of the campus at the close of 2014.  It is in the form of a 10 page pdf.  I hope you will share it with your colleagues and let me know your thoughts.

Campus Closed

Campus ClosedIt is just a matter of time until your campus will be closed. Usually it will be temporary. Sometimes it will be permanent.

Whether by snow and ice, wind, fire, flood, civil disorder or bankruptcy, you may be certain that your campus will be closed. It is just a matter of when and how long the closure will last. Even a brief closing provides a glimpse of higher education without the comfortable assumption of shared space and time – the familiar functionality of a campus. Continue reading

Digital Visible

Hunt Library Int.2.wcThe physical implications of the digital transformation of higher education are becoming visible. Classrooms and libraries are being retooled in response to changes in basic assumptions that have guided campus development for more than a century. Student housing and campuses are evolving in response to social media and the changing use patterns of members of the campus community.  From classrooms to libraries to residence halls, digital transformation is changing the physical presence and requirements of each institution.

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Classrooms: Bigger, Flatter, Faster and Fewer

Even in the digitally driven future of higher education, three-dimensional classroom spaces will be needed.  They won’t be used in the traditional manner and they won’t be the traditional kind.  They will be bigger, flatter, faster and there will be fewer classrooms for the same number of students.

Lectures will continue, but already they occupy less class time.  Pedagogy is changing in and outside of the classroom.  In the classroom, change is not disabling the lecture; it is enabling discussion, teamwork and practical applications. Whether fast or slow, the rate of change is limited by each institution’s culture.  Differences in institutional culture will become evident in the structure of classrooms and what happens there. Continue reading