Sunday, March 17, 2019

Effect of Educational Technology on Campus Needs

The ACT Government has commissioned the Australian National University (ANU) to estimate the number of students in Canberra's public schools in the next decade. This will take into account population growth, urban infill, and changes in preference for private versus public schools (the ANU is advertising for a demographer to work on this). However, another factor I suggest need to be taken into account is the use of technology in education. In the next ten years students will be predominately learning online. This will change the nature, and mix, of schools required, particularly for older students.

The assumption has been that students go to the same campus at fixed times, on fixed days, during a term. However, vocational education has already changed to a predominately on-line mode, and universities are in the middle of the same transition. This change will happen for older school students in the next ten years.

ANU Marie Reay
Teaching Centre
With a blended approach, students receive their learning materials online, with most assessment and routine administrative matters also handled online. Students study at home, or in a "learning center" (a library without books). Students undertake self organized group work, and may also attend some staff supervised workshop activities. However, there are few, if any, old fashioned classes with a teacher giving presentations. Last week I detailed how I am using this approach in the Australian National University's new Marie Reay Teaching Centre.

The change in teaching technique changes the design and mix of campus buildings needed. More informal learning space is needed, for individual and group work. Fewer lecture halls are needed, and almost no "classrooms". Rather than one large campus, an institution can have multiple small satellite campuses. These campuses can be shared between institutions, and be collocated with public facilities

As the ACT has one less level of government, it is much easier to combine school facilities with other educational and public functions. An example is Gungahlin College, which shares a building with the ACT Library and Canberra Institute of Technology. However, this could be taken further, with learning facilities shared more widely.

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