What happens then when most of a university's students hardly ever visit the campus and learn instead on the net? This is taken up in an article in the magazine Inside Higher Ed, The Distance Ed Tipping Point. Traditions and loyalty are much harder to maintain on the net though some are trying to counter that. Bryant & Stratton College in the US, for example, are holding a virtual graduation ceremony in Second Life for 40 of its distance students, complete with avatars in academic robes (see article in Campus Technology).
So what has to change as the university goes more net-based?
- When most students are on the net suddenly net-based learning is core business and administrative routines have to be revised accordingly.
- The role of the teaching staff changes when lecture time is no longer so relevant.
- Staff training has to focus on the new skills of teaching effectively on the net.
- Digital competence becomes a key factor in staff recruitment.
- The use of campus buildings, classrooms and infrastructure needs to be reviewed.
- Many universities are supported by local authorities and industry and are seen as integral to the region's development so what happens when most of the students live outside the region?