Does Campus Education Have a Future?
Campus based education is under increasing pressure financially and structurally. These pressures have been recently exacerbated in Australia by the release of a strategic report by Ernst and Young  which roughly speaking predicts the demise of traditional model universities in Australia within the next decade or so. Reading between the lines is an underlying assumption that traditional classroom instruction offers few benefits over watching sophisticated online content. Internet universities are becoming more common, as the cost of higher education is increasingly criticized in the USA and abroad. Burdened with the high cost of maintaining physical infrastructure, buildings, laboratories, sports grounds and the like, how can traditional campus universities compete with their online counterparts?
To meet this challenge it seems imperative that traditional universities adapt, by changing their education to better utilise their costly physical assets. I think this means that Universities need to help students learn in ways that online universities are incapable of imitating or replicating. One consequence of this line of reasoning is that traditional lectures and other learning approaches of a more traditional era must give way to collaborative learning that leverages the power of academic communities in new ways.
I have personal experience with two approaches that may prove fruitful. The first is an international project course combining students from two continents, in a realistic workshop based systems development task. In this course we, the students and I, explore the role of group interaction and shared informal learning spaces on learning approaches and outcomes. The second approach draws on student reflections I collected while conducting a participatory, student driven, course where the curriculum in realtime and distributed systems was largely presented by the students themselves. In this setting students are central actors and responsible for identifying required concepts and algorithms, learning about them, and presenting them to others.
As a community of educators we need to explore options such as those I have described in order to stimulate discussion on a how to achieve a fundamental shift in campus based educational practice and preserve the unique personal development opportunities that campus education can provide.
 Ernst and Young, 2012, "University of the future, A thousand year old industry on the cusp of profound change",