The campus as a learning infrastructure

This section from Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed Tech is interesting to read in light of the last six months. On pg 24 he considers how the physical architecture of the university campus was designed to support certain kinds of interactions:

Students were brought together in one physical location, over a tightly constrained time frame, with a strict timetable which occurs within an architecture that offers students multiple spaces (cafes, bars, common areas) and opportunities for informal discussion. This is all obvious in retrospect, but it was so commonplace that the intentionality of the structure became invisible. But when the online element was introduced, educators were forced to consider how they either replicated these interactions or improved upon them.

These are undergoing dramatic change under conditions of social distancing. Certain rooms will be prohibited for providing insufficient space for distancing, movements of people through the campus will be staggered and the quality of interactions will inevitably be changed through the introduction of personal protective equipment. Meanwhile the constraints of the campus will continue to guide the organisation of learning, as he summarises on pg 95:
However, it may be that many of these assumptions are bound up in economic models that have their roots in the physical aspects of education. For example, if students must come to a physical campus, then it makes sense to bundle all their modules into a short time span to minimize inconvenience and to manage staff time.

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