Assumption (from Part 1): Technology improvements will create an online classroom experience that is better than the on-campus classroom experience.

If online classroom experience is better than on-campus classroom experience, then WHY WALK TO CLASS?

The Status Quo

In a recent conversation about the future of higher ed, a university administrator pointed out to me that universities are building new dorms left and right, and many colleges applications are up. He felt secure that the classic four-year liberal arts model will sustain itself for quite some time.

Its hard to disagree. Generations of liberal arts expectations and traditions are hard to break:

-Parents want their kids to have what they had: college years were the happiest years of my life.

-Kids want what their parents had: college years are going to be the happiest years of my life.College choice and evaluation is often predicated upon the quality of the “experience” as much as the quality of the education.

-University faculty enjoy the freedom to do research and the relative independence from corporate pressures.

If these assumptions are correct, then the status quo has three legs to stand on, and the classic higher ed model is here to stay for a while.

Le Resistance

It is true that some people are NOT advocating for these heavenly 4 years at utopian green acres of academia.

-Some of the parents who have been woken up from their reverie by hefty tuition bills.

-Some of the students who are concerned about being employable at the end of four years.

-Some of the employers who are concerned about finding employable graduates.

-Some of the politicians…

Still, these detractors are mostly in the minority.

Campus Values

In addition to the more “emotional” factors supporting the classic on-campus model, there are also the undeniable added value aspects of campus.

Structure – At a young age, many students do not have the self-management and self-motivation skills that are required for more independent study. On-campus living offers structure and support in a consistently academic environment.

Community and Communication – During their transition period (between childhood and adulthood), on-campus students are offered an opportunity for emotional growth in an environment with a multitude of social interactions, groups, organizations, and activities.

Facilities and Resources – Students have access to state of the art facilities – creative, professional, and recreational – that offer an opportunity to start new initiatives and carry out exciting projects.

Leadership and mentorship – Leadership is often more effectively demonstrated and taught at an interpersonal level. Campus offers students the opportunity to interact with great minds and be mentored by inspirational leaders.

On-Campus Disruption: The Flipped Campus

How then, can we reconcile the importance of being on-campus, with the superiority of online classrooms? Under the current mainstream university structure, these two assumptions are at odds.

I think that there exists a simple solution: THE FLIPPED CAMPUS:

  1. Classes move online with Minerva-style seminars supplemented with interactive/adaptive course content (the exact cocktail would depend on subject of study).
  1. On-campus classroom space will be converted to structured experiential project co-working environments, offering thousands of industry related projects, as well as project leadership/support and leadership training.

Lets take a quick look at how the main stake-holders may behave once the new online classroom experience becomes an option on-campus.


Students want the campus experience: the sports, the community, the parties, the social groups.

Do they want a good classroom experience? Yes. Do they want to physically sit in class? No way!

New media has changed the way we (and especially the younger generations) consume information. Whereas I was happy to sit through a 90 minute lecture in college, I can barely sit through 15 minutes today without groping for the fast forward button. The new generations are even more interactivity-dependent than I (which is why kids hate school more than ever). Todays student wants her information fast, furious, and in multimedia.

To sum up: students want the campus experience, but will be happier with interactive online classes.

What about the parents?

I think that parents will come around pretty quickly, as well. They will see the superior technology and convert. Nothing can stand in the way of good technology – just message my grandmothers on their Facebook pages or their iPhones.

Technology In The Driver Seat

People change very slowly. Organizations change very slowly. Everything changes very slowly. UNLESS, a new technology is unleashed. Then, forget slowly. Just look at the last two decades. Theres no such thing as slowly when technology changes the rules of the game.

Flipped Campus Versus Flipped Classroom 

You might be thinking: Isn’t this the same as flipped classrooms? This is old news. I’ve heard this all before.

There are a few critical distinctions. Flipped classrooms are incremental changes where the onus is on the faculty to provide the hybrid classroom experience. This is not fair to the faculty. For one, they are rarely professionals in modern instructional design. Also, they may be asked to create changes that are contrary to the structure of the university – technology, real estate, management, etc.

A flipped campus, on the other hand, is a wholehearted structural change. It addresses the future of education and offers a compatible overhaul of the university’s structure. It is the difference between an update to an operating system and a new version that is built upon a new generation of technology and understanding. A flipped campus requires the university to admit that its current operating model is not optimal for the new generation of students and for preparing them for the modern world.  A flipped campus is a commitment by the university to modernize from the ground up.

This will require moving career services from the little house on the edge of campus, to a more central role. This will require new initiatives to build real world projects into the curriculum. This will involve making education more engaging, more fun, and more relevant.

Rate of Change 

During the last two decades, eLearning was not a revolution, but an addition. And it has grown specifically because it was CHEAPER. The classroom game changer is when it becomes BETTER. Based on the Minerva seminar demo, were getting pretty close!

The Four-Year, On-Campus University is here to stay for a long while. How classes are taught on campus, and how the campus is activated may change much more quickly than expected. US higher education is spending billions on online education technology. They have opened the flood gates to technology.