[iDC] Why do we need physical campuses?

Stian Håklev shaklev at gmail.com
Thu Jun 10 17:37:28 UTC 2010

Absolutely, there is huge potential value to the physical learning
environment. However, the problem is that right now, that is often not
exploited very well. Most of my undergrad consisted of sitting in a lecture
theatre with 300 others, listening to a lecture for three hours. That is not
a good use of my time, and not something that offers fundamentally better
value than online (in fact, online would probably be superior in this case).

Ottonomy made some great comments in his review of Anya Kamenetz' DIY U:

> The university felt inefficient to me because it didn’t quite get me and my
> classmates to the level of “deep” learning that I wanted. My classes were
> more surveys than deep analysis. We rarely got past figuring out what
> authors were saying about a particular topic, as we usually had more
> readings assigned than a couple days of class discussions  a week could
> cover and usually more than a students could manage to carefully digest on
> their own. The other elements of the inefficiency I felt are in the
> artifacts and networks my classmates and I created. We each wrote dozens of
> papers over the years, but I don’t now have access to any of the insights
> other students’ gained that they didn’t mention in discussion. As I
> mentioned in my chapter 3 comments<http://ottonomy.posterous.com/thoughts-on-diy-u-chapter-3-economics>,
> the box of notebooks I have in the garage is a pretty poor artifact of
> learning itself. Its contents need weeks of effort to turn into something
> that I could share with somebody else. I want an educational network that
> builds knowledge together, not focused into our own notebooks and papers
> that only our professor will ever read. And I regret not taking the efforts
> necessary to ensure my learning networks would continue after the end of a
> particular class. To me, successful transformation of this experience means
> better learning for individuals and better collaboration for groups to get
> even undergrads to the deep analysis that the valuable curation of
> perspectives makes possible.
> Professors spend a lot of their effort designing courses to curate up
> interesting analysis and comparison of high quality scholarship, but the
> execution is weakened by this inefficiency. Students can’t get as deep into
> comparing these perspectives as their professors wish they could. Class
> networks are limited in space and time by the present pedagogy, but they do
> not need to be. Outside institutions, learning networks grow and decay
> organically as individuals’ interest in a topic develops.

Basically, I think that both universities (and conferences) should think
about what are the things that are best done offline, face to face... things
like experiential learning, group discussions, hands-on experiments,
excursions, embodied learning, socialization... and what is best done online
(watching three hour lectures, for example).


http://reganmian.net/blog -- Random Stuff that Matters
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