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For All Worldwide, A Holistic View

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Volume Three - Chapter Four

(Last updated  Feb. 6, 2008)


Universities could shape online activities into socially contextualized learning environments in which students actively engage in the construction of their learning experience and immediately use their course content. --John Seely Brown 

I believe that information technology obviates the need for the university to be a 'place.'...Each of the university's functions can be distributed in space and perhaps in time. --William A. Wulf

The computer is the most extraordinary construction material ever invented...a universal construction material (that is) greatly expanding what people can create and what they can learn in the process -Mitchel Resnik

The university may need to reorganize itself quite differently, stressing forms of pedagogy and extracurricular experiences to nurture and teach the art and skill of creativity and innovation. This would probably imply a shift away from highly specialized disciplines and degree programs to programs placing more emphasis on integrating knowledge. To this end, perhaps it is time to integrate the educational mission of the university with the research and service activities of the faculty by ripping instruction out of the classroom--or at least the lecture hall----and placing it instead in the discovery environment of the laboratory or studio or the experiential environment of professional practice.   -- James Duderstadt

Now to be realistic, in examining possibilities for `learning for all,' we must admit that in the foreseeable future there will be many who are especially privileged in education; such those whose geographical location provides access to a resident campus, or at least to a classroom with a  skilled teacher/counselor who has electronic connections to the world and to those who are leading out ahead in distance learning, research and experimentation. Not every learner in the world can work alongside an Einstein, …yet won't it be advantageous  for any gifted learner, anywhere, to attend a virtual campus for possibilities not yet adequately foreseen or imagined? The milieu of learning for decades ahead "could depend on the technical architecture adopted for the emerging mobile and pervasive infrastructure" to be developed in the next decade or so." Most learning will probably be `blended,' that is some on campus and some online. On the British Open University open source courses see: <http://oci.open.ac.uk/>. A glimpse at future classroom possibilities is provided by iVocalize software and services, seen at <http://www.ivocalize.com/>. This provides for interactive web classroom meetings, online seminars, e-learning classrooms with many features like interactive Whiteboard, point point presentations and recording of presentations. Locally this can be a Community Learning Center form of tele-center that serves all ages and needs "rooted in discovery-based, self-directed and tailored learning" that is "linked to involvement in purposeful work: <http://www.clcinfo.org/>. .

In 2005 educators were already using and foreseeing future technology that can radically improve the quality of classroom teaching for those in class as well as those who are connected at a distance or who  use a local tele-center.   For example,  Huang (2004) has reported on a `smart classroom' in Beijing, China, that makes possible more active classroom participation, even in large classes. If the instructor asks a question of a student who is a thousand miles away, the student's photo--when she touches it on digital whiteboard-- switches to live video and audio of that student when he or she answers. There will be continually improving technologies that record and enhance classroom lectures--such as the iPods that are being given to some students--and those that that enable web-based videoconferencing,  and that in other ways enhance the involvement of distant learners - or even learners who participate from their on campus dormitory rooms. The world itself is likely to become a classroom. Brown (2008) sees a shift from the term `classrooom ' to 'learning space' as students begin to work together on campus or off in `cyble cafes,' libraries and other places made possible by mobile technology.

Many big lecture classes in the USA were in 2005 using a student response system, a battery operated device called the `clicker'-- like a TV remote--that enables every member of a class to participate at once, and not just the one who raises a hand. Anyone anytime can ask a question or make a comment. Beyond current `clickers-- that are like TV remotes-there will be many new features like the `consensor' one can use to push a red button if  not understanding and needing further clarification and explanation. An instructor will take notice when everyone in class is pushing the red button. In time a distant education student can also ask a question at any time, and in many cases the answer can be a link to more information online. Electronics in the classroom can transform it into `a stimulating learning environment' that augments "motivation and collaboration (across the world), integration  (with practical experience) and creativity (in partnership with faculty.)"

Rheingold (2003) asked: Will individual  learners be able to connect with all the groups they need to connect with...using wearable computers or cell phones? (Sometimes built into their clothing or eyeglasses) How and what they learn and know "will be determined in part by the way technology is designed and regulated in its earliest stages." Computer chips will be everywhere, in the classroom, the chair that automatically connects to the Web, the library table, the dorm desk, in eyeglasses, with Internet access anywhere a learner is. Rheingold describes research instruments at the MIT Media Lab; "a magnifying glass for augmenting reality;" and `phicons'  that include parts of the physical world within a virtual world. There now are engineering buildings that illustrate various kinds

Carlson (2004) illustrated with `the next generation classroom at Central Michigan State University's health-professionals building. It was designed around "the ethic of body, mind and spirit."  Lecturers at this campus can take students  to other hospitals or clinics without leaving the classroom; for example showing students working on a simulated disaster victim. . Classroom design can help or hinder learning. (Oblinger 2005). On creating learning environments see from Australia: <http://tojde.anadolu.edu.tr/>. In time,  a sociology classroom can visit the most poverty stricken neighborhoods on the plane. Meanwhile Moravec, Kurzweil and others are anticipating thousands of interlinked supercomputers with more intelligence than the human brain. With that kind of power couldn’t every campus –-or one global virtual campus—become an intelligent, thinking, living electronic environment that can empower every learner, anywhere, anytime? (Smarr 2002). One dream worth exploring might be seen in `Second Life,' <http://secondlife.com> where over nine million people do all kinds of things in a virtual world they help created. Similarly there might be a "universal university" simulated community in which every student on earth might meet and do projects together. Already at the University of Denver there is an experiment in  building a nuclear plant, safe because it just exists in a virtual world.

Gerschenfeld (2001) in an address on “Universities That Think” described in detail the possibilities already demonstrated at an architecture exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. In When Things Begin to Think (1999) he had already proposed that instead of replacing our existing learning world we should first look at ways to enhance it. Roush (2001) discussed how to create smarter, more intelligent environments. Alexander  (2004) mentions collaborative use of MIT's `OpenCourseware' for imagining "being able to support and feed interests from members of our community; building a brief enthusiasm into a larger learning moment, liking students to each other in a sprit of intellectual curiosity, knitting the campus community even closer together." The Venus Project <http://www,thevenusproject.com> about creating cities that think, intelligent housing around a `living research center' devoted to improving the quality of life is suggestive of ideas for designing a new kind of residential campus.

This can mean moving beyond an ecology building that teaches. McDonough (2002) described the ecological `green' building that is `eco-efficient' and is a model of for ecological conscious design. The possibility of a teaching building is illustrated by many such building--like the Chicago city hall--that has a garden roof which keeps the building cooler in hot weather and that produces solar energy.  Meline (2004) reported on campuses where student action is leading  use of wind power and other alternate sources of energy. In March 2004 a section of The Chronicle of Higher Education described environmentally responsible `green dormitories,' construction with recycled materials, and an `engineering building that teaches and demonstrates better engineering methods, Newsweek, Aug 2027, 2007 reports on the emerging `green campus' where students are growing their own really-organic food and had a photo of Dartmouth"s `greeb bus' that runs on waste cooking oil. Energy-efficient buildings, recycling waste war, reducing dependence on oil not only teach and encourage research, they open paths to new and better jobs. Campus demonstrations help scholars see that action now can save huge sums and help prevent disasters in the future.

McDonough (2004) pointed out that it will take time for colleges to change the ways they construct campus buildings, but "they can begin now to revamp curriculum...to reflect the the interdisciplinary values of a sustainable world. And he says, in doing so they will show how millions of dollars can be saved  Several articles in the July 2005 EDUCAUSE on `learning space design--not just for `classrooms of the future' but also for theatre performance rooms, labs, music studios and various kinds of virtual and informal learning spaces that embody and enhance social communication. `Social learning' is found to have greater depth-social.

However, Nathan's (2005) research on contemporary student life found that learners are so busy--for example on jobs to support themselves, social life and career concerns--that they have little time or energy for 'learning community' efforts. Their cheating, she finds, is a struggle to keep up with many diverse classes rather than being only a moral issue. 

Whatever the possibilities, virtual education must develop in incremental stages. Increasingly, however, a new generation of learners will become discontented—perhaps many even rebellious—if classrooms for all stages of learning remain so primitive. (Spence 2001) Most of the best classrooms are still much like they were two centuries ago. For discussion, let’s begin to imagine the campus of the future, the classroom of the future, and look at a few of the incremental steps underway to create them; and then begin to imagine the future of virtual classrooms and campuses for everyone in the world. One illustration of a dramatic learning environment (Guernsey 2005) lets students visit inside an accurate reconstruction of ancient Rome using existing digital technology. "a groundbreaking teaching tool...backed by scholarly citations." Soon a learner will also be able to use the same tech to explore "a molecule or a distant galaxy"

Long (2005) has anticipated `distributed classrooms' in `cooperative buildings. Through high-bandwidth interconnections learners could meet in a class with others a few feet apart, or a thousand miles apart, incorporating features now only available in research labs. Such rooms could also be multi-functional, serving also as libraries, conference rooms or offices. Such rooms "could combine real world objects with virtual elements"'  to create learning environments along with information tailored to the individual learner. See: <http://www.stanford.edu/>. for Evenheap and for Tidebreak see:


How can—or how should--emerging new technologies change the residential campus and classroom, and can those changes also help create a new academic structure, virtual campuses and classrooms open  and interacting with to the world? Most people are familiar with the traditional campus with its historic buildings, gracious green spaces, laboratories, concert hall, theater, libraries, sport fields and all. It is more difficult to imagine the virtual campus of the future: classrooms, laboratories and new kinds of facilities made necessary for and possible by powerful new technologies. How will classrooms, labs and studios be different, whether for lectures, seminars, practice, experimentation or one-on-one tutorials? Marks (2002) reported on the development of plans for buildings that are much more flexible, with inner walls that can be easily changed, and for capacity for the future of new technologies not yet developed. How about collaborative facilities for instance: <http://www.dartmouth.edu/~collab/index.html> Alexander (2004) called attention to labs that are being replaced by wireless equipment.

Ball State University in May, 2002, announced that it was cooperating with ten overseas universities-- and planned to include at least one on every continent--in the establishment of a `global media network.' The plan: to use two-way transmission by video and audio to enrich the resident campus experience. Students on two continents will be able to take classes together, or to have discussions--for example on some current issue or crisis.  Some classrooms on each campus will be equipped camera, network connections, microphone and projection screen so that faculty and students can see each other and talk with each other as if in the same room.

Bleed (2001) quoted Winston Churchill: ‘We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Buckminster Fuller said that to reform people the environment must first be reformed. The present classroom environment—inherited from both the agrarian and industrial ages--Bleed reminds us, includes a rigid assembly-line of fifty minute class sessions, since accreditation so often is based on `seat time.’ and with a summer recess to tend to crops. He proposes a new “model, one that incorporates creative use of technology, architecture and people.”  Want to see some entirely new campuses? 

Is there a way for residential campuses to provide high quality learning while at the same time, (1) redesigning across some years, constructing and remodeling new kinds of buildings, and (2) providing access to millions of people currently without highly desired and desirable learning opportunities? (3) And involve students and faculty, through their everyday study and research, to help design the global virtual academic structure. Can we anticipate a time when students design and create a uniquely different virtual classroom--or online learning community-- for each research/learning project? Gershenfeld (2002) described how students can design their own courses while enrolled in them. Next they may design the virtual campus and virtual global university in the process of using them. This presumes a philosophy and method of education that gives up on spoon-feeding content to students and instead helps them find projects to work on in teams, a method in which they discover their need for and teach themselves the content they need and invest or discover new content. As of 2002 no one yet knew what all the changes Wi-Fi will bring. Negroponte (2002) called it a "truly new, bottom up phenomenon" that can transform education when everything on campus is wirelessly connected. McHugh (2002) described Wi-Fi at Dartmouth.  

A planning conference on the future of global virtual lifelong education ought, among other things, to discuss (1) global virtual extension of resident universities into neighborhood learning centers; (2) how forthcoming technologies might transform classrooms and resident learning facilities; (3) the idea of a global virtual campus; (4) the global virtual classroom; (5) some technologies, and help in design. The design for a totally new structure for academia in cyberspace may require what we cannot yet even imagine Wulf (2003)…yet are beginning to create!   Barone (2003) predicts that the change  is already transformational in nature, like an earthquake it is shocking complex, disruptive and confusing," requiring "new structures and funding models, new professionals, new relationships, new accountability and new leadership roles." 

In (1.1) we pointed out that the true university is not the buildings, and could theoretically function in another set of buildings or soon could function in virtual education space with hardly any buildings. As a distant dam and waterfall may provide electricity for many campuses, so sometime can a knowledge-generator (poor term) at a place like the MIT Media Lab provide virtual education facilities that can be entered from anywhere? (Not just courses to a distant learner but a distant learner coming to a campus in cyberspace; however, not until administrative and teaching/learning structures are designed for cyberspace/virtual space.) So research and planning might begin with the power of art “to unleash the creative potential of our future citizenry. (Coyote 2000). “Art is the research and development arm of Culture” and when striving to develop creativity and creative thinking shouldn’t educational institutions be artistic places, even in cyberspace? Coyote went on to  point out that design and keen aesthetics are forms of intelligence. Can’t a resident campus and a classroom be more imaginatively artistic as it becomes more intelligent? What heightened artistic standards might be required of campus buildings and of virtual classrooms? What imagination is needed and how can it be developed? Again here, most educators (not you, the reader, of course) need to admit and confront a profound ignorance. Who knows if a great electronic mural of learning can be painted in the sky?


At Rice University in Texas students and faculty, working together, early explored the idea that the campus itself and its buildings should teach and illustrate the values and principles taught in the classroom. For example, the buildings and grounds should “embody responsible state-of-the-art environmental design.” The construction of new residential halls should forge “an indelible message of the importance of sustainable living” and should facilitate “the process of living and working in a sustainable manner.” In fact a sustainable campus could have visible economic advantages, reduced electricity usage, lower heating and cooling costs, reduced water use and less waste to be hauled away. Networking intelligence could manage buildings, electricity and plumbing, more sensibly. <http://www.dnr.state.mo.us/greenbldg/index.html> Other campuses are looking at this, for example; pm the MIT model see: <http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/tt/2003/dec03/ehs.html>. <http://www.yale.edu/opa/v31.n8/story1.html>.

“In parallel to these engineering advantages there are educational values.” Lecturing on environmental issues at a campus that does not practice sustainability is counterproductive. If done right, “buildings can become learning tools to our campus, to Houston and to the world.” Shouldn’t a long-range plan call for every building to offer a teaching lesson to every visitor as well as to each faculty member and student? If the whole earth must in the future be tended like a complex ecosystem garden, why not begin on the campus? There are, in fact, many beginnings. The March 26 2004 special issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education on architecture reports on new kinds of buildings that teach, for example an engineering building at Utah State University where structural engineering features are left exposed for students to see, 

A `virtual reality theater” at Iowa State University, for example, provides three-dimensional images that change according to a viewer’s perspective. “The wireless theater surrounds visitors with computer-generated images that are projected onto the walls, floor and ceiling.” (Business Week, July 3, 2000). The theater moves beyond 3-D to provide interactive experiences, such as a virtual tornado. Before the end of the twenty-first century, (Hiller 2001) “art galleries and museums will transform themselves into dynamic providers of education.” Children’s science museums with avant-garde technologies already let children take their own time and manipulate artifacts with their own hands so that they come to understand concepts that would be difficult to explain in words. However museum goers differ, they each can learn in their own way. Gerstenfeld (2001) has described how furniture can also become intelligent teaching instruments.

The Sam Noble Museum at the University of Oklahoma was designed to teach students at that university, but also `to teach anyone in the state or all over the world,’ expanding on many such uses of museums elsewhere as `teaching instruments.’ For example the Noble Museum’s presentation of the 30,000 years of human living in Oklahoma was designed with the participation of Oklahoma’s Native American tribes in every phase of the planning and execution. Dramatic presentations in the Hall of the People of Oklahoma immerse learners in a bison hunt. The Website provides links to more than 7,500 museums worldwide and also features exhibits there in Virtual 3-D. It is a building that demonstrates and empowers interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to learning. It teaches the importance of ecology. It has a discovery room where people of all ages “can become scientists.” It has on-the-site advanced technology classrooms and its long-range plan includes laboratories in archaeology, paleontology and the life sciences. These are designed to provide dramatic learning experiences as students take a virtual biological tour of the landscape and its history. And although part of the university campus, its outside grounds were also designed for learning and teaching. Instead of a mowed lawn or ornamental garden it sits amidst sixty acres of “natural Oklahoma environment that are a natural extension of the museum.” Again this is not artificial but represents the species—of wild grasses for example—that naturally exist within five miles of the museum, preserving a natural habitat for further generations to see and study. In his imaginative design for the school of the future. George Leonard put real woods on the grounds to serve as a place for reflection as well as a lab. (Sooner 2001)

Shouldn’t a building where solar energy is taught be empowered by solar energy? This is not a new or revolutionary idea. Teaching about football is not confined to a classroom. Piano playing is not taught in a studio without pianos. Medical students get their most important education in the hospital. Also teachers should first be interns in the educational equivalent of the hospital. Carlson (2006) has described a `sustainable campus' with green buildings, natural landscape, on campus produced power, recycling and using recycled paper and much more including a healthier, less expensive environment.

O’Donnell (2001) says that the present design of campus grounds and buildings prolong immaturity rather than supporting mature adult attitudes towards learning. In contrast to the seriousness of older adults who continue their learning, O’Donnell sees the design of present campuses--instead of creating stimulating `communities of learning”--as fostering a `youth camp’ environment that actually encourages—unintentionally of course-- a seeking of pleasures and recreations, including drug and alcohol abuse. “Dormitories, fraternity/sorority houses and student ghettos are the scenes of a wild variety of childish behaviors…higher education in European and American societies is firmly rooted in a notion of prolonged and irresponsible childhood.” Too much of the money that ought to be used for serious research and learning is devoted to `country club’ facilities for spectator sports for outsiders and services for the elite 18-21 year olds who today are actually a small minority of the people in higher education, not to mention those seriously engaged in learning. Part of the problem, O’Donnell says, is that traditional campuses have been designed for a small minority of privileged teenagers and not, for example, for the harried single mother who is not ready for higher education until she is in her mid-twenties or perhaps not until her children are grown.

To use O’Donnell’s phrase, does the resident university need to be dis-infantalized in the move towards lifelong education for all? This, of course, is related to a larger-scale redesigning of all education. Research for new facilities for learning appropriate to the space age should examine possibilities for designing entirely new kinds of learning architecture, on campus and in virtual space. How can buildings help 18-24 age learners assume more adult attitudes and responsibilities? Perhaps  a law school staff and building should be the place where all student offenses are adjudicated—in relation to virtual courthouses--rather than having them handled by a faculty committee. (See Stephens 2001 in a later paragraph.) Perhaps a student-faculty government, with the political science building as a campus `city hall’ should really govern, with student members on the campus police force. Something similar could perhaps be done as well as drama school presentations that are now presented on television.

If a campus of thousands of students, staff and faculty have many if not all of the problems of a city or town, then perhaps not only the buildings but also the structures of civic and cultural life on campus should always focus on futuristic design, with what William Gibson has called `successive layers of Tomorrowlands,’ exploring and trying out new possibilities for securing human rights, justice and a responsible good life for all. Are we talking about campuses as technologically empowered theme parks? As  an educational Disneyland? Tomorrowlands too often just discuss fantastic ideas for new technology for things like fighting wars in space. Couldn’t campus structures and experiences explore `cultural and learning `Tomorrowlands’ and other radically different new ideas for learning environments that can be more replicable in virtual space? Those aged 18-24 are future-oriented… but often the university only aids jobs and economic dreams. And even those seem deliberately stretched out in a prolonged adolescence.

This suggests that existing campus facilities are themselves still primitive and might be transformed by new global-use technologies, such as that seen in the billion-dollar planetarium in New York City where technology creates and enables an astonishingly new kind of learning environment. Can every learner in the world visit that planetarium? Or better still, can it be taken in virtual space to every interested person in the world?  <http://www.ceptualinstitute.com/uiu_plus/isss98/house-of-eyes.htm#Eyes7> .

We have passed through an era in which all modern cities and universities tend to be very much alike, rather than each developing an exciting uniqueness. Maybe even to point this out to students and faculty will motivate some of them to use powerful new technologies to design unique kinds of campuses, growing, changing, expanding as they seek to motivate and inspire mind and spirit. Perhaps in virtual space there can be a thousand different kinds of educational architectures, for different cultures, for different needs and interests, virtual campuses as different as California Institute of Technology and Benares Hindu University. (1.6) Some predict that many campuses will become study-work-recreation centers across a lifetime in a society dedicated to education.(2.6)

The physical facilities on campus that are constructed in the next two decades will perhaps be expected to serve a half-century, especially since each electronic classroom can cost at least a million dollars. So planners should continually look to the future. Perhaps virtual space will be more easily remodeled and adjusted to new possibilities, but some planners suggest that inadequate planning now may lead in wrong directions, that in twenty years ahead it may be very expensive to backtrack and move in a new direction. Bleed (2001) describes a technologically advanced  university building which incorporates classroom with independent living, eating space for conversation, many services, and décor “much in the mode of a large shopping mall, with color and music.” Art, especially computer art, could be in the halls rather than off at a campus gallery. Distance students may `be there' also through virtual reality.

At the same time tradition must not be lost. Instead, as Creighton and Buchanan (2001) suggest, the new technology-empowered campus should seek to strengthen rather than replace the best parts of on-campus experience. Of course they are not speaking of campus buildings, but in (1.1) we said that if eight different tornados hit a university town all at once, utterly destroying all the buildings on the campus, we would hope that very careful research might underlie the plans for how to rebuild structures for coming centuries. Before redesigning a university theater, designers might look at the MIT Media lab’s design for a fantastic new kind of opera house in Vienna, and might examine that previously mentioned `virtual reality theater’ at Iowa State, with three-dimensional images that change according to the viewer’s perspective, a wireless theater that surrounds visitors with computer-generated images on the floor, the walls, the ceiling. Such building designs have implications for future classrooms and laboratories on campus and in virtual space.


McCredie (2003) pointed out that learning and teaching and the classroom have yet to be transformed from being a lecture-based enterprise. Only a few are "experimenting with innovative new models." There are few experimental "learning environments to compare and evaluate." The "core of the academic enterprise" is yet to be re-engineered.  Downes (2004) described a "virtual extension of the classroom" composed of three sets of blogs. A law class in Buffalo  was used, for example, to enhance discussion among 180 students. (group blogs.)

What new designs should be examined for the resident campus as well as the global virtual campus? (3.4.4). Laboratories are now increasingly equipped with monitors, headsets and personal computers linked to an ever-expanding set of networks and peripherals. However such revolutionary technology still is an extension of the present, not adequate for future planning for interlinking of thousands of learning teams. Further, it is likely that resident students will in time have one foot in a virtual campus. Gerschenfeld (2002) thinks that every facet of a building should be coordinated through a single Web-based interface, with MIT's new Media Lab building as an experiment and demonstration. Fortunately new wireless technologies may reduce the amount of remodeling required for campus buildings..   

Already some campus classroom are windows on the world, with walls that are huge television screens where learners can meet with an expert a continent away as if she is in the same room with them, or where learners can participate in a lab or class in another country, or where video and films can take the learner to other times and places. One of the walls to that virtual learning room can `be on the other side of the world,' accessible at a home or dormitory. The University of Arizona (Olsen 2003) successfully used what has been called by various names--virtual environment, telepresence, immersive videoconferencing--for `lifelike' learning sessions that one professor reported that "The only thing I cna't do is hug a student."  

 Dickinson (2000) asked us to picture in our minds an interactive learning room where learners are studying marine environments. On one wall is digital video of the ocean, including sound and smell as well as linked databases and web pages on the learner’s computer screens. “Some are working with augmented reality programs, studying ocean currents and flow patterns.” For the last hour the video sea wall will “link to Neptune IV for a virtual visit” to a deep-sea floor observatory “to study new forms of life discovered in volcanic vents,” participating in the research of scientists. Unrealistic? Tens of thousands of school children are doing that sort of thing right now…although on a small screen. But must that be available only in an on campus classroom? The learner at home can also view that video and go along on screen to that sea-floor observatory. With a much more powerful and cheaper Internet why can’t anyone in the world participate from home—or at least at a `neighborhood-learning-center?’ (1.9 and 2.18).

Collective Intelligence tools are being used to help learners work in communities with those nearby--and thousands of miles away--who share common study interests and can support teach others efforts over short or longer periods of time. Some classes already begin to support learning environments of the sort required for a truly new age of learning and many more will need to use such present possibilities while at the same time engage in planning which anticipates future virtual possibilities. One model for the virtual classroom may be a team working on a project; a different team on every project, each interrelated with other such teams around the world. Seminars at which each member is building a model can become such working teams as all collaborate in building better and better models.

Once schoolchildren experience the future classroom described by Dickinson (2000), what will they expect of the classroom on campus and of the future virtual classroom on line?  The technology that begins to automate the home—first seen in modest technologies such as electric lights that go on and off when one enters or leaves a room--can also automate classrooms, labs and other campus facilities, helping turn them into more imaginative learning environments. Already there are successful experiments with distributed learning in which a learner can attend from a distance, as if actually there. Or an instructor can take an entire class to visit a site or class in another country, or to question a distant speaker about a video about him that has just been seen.

Dertouzos (2000) described a `collaboration room’--possible with present technology-- “with microphones hanging from the ceiling (which) focus electronically, without moving, to pick up whoever is speaking while suppressing the background noise. Video cameras high in the corners register the activity. Computers at each location manage the information and communicate over the Net” so that participants in cities on opposite side of the planet can see and hear each other on a fifteen foot wall screen. One expert can equally participate from his home on a third continent. “Where he has two three foot screens in his study.” Computers in the three locations “are running a `co-lab editor,’ a program designed for “electronically coordinating such joint work. It records in audio and video selected fragments from what each person says and does. Along with the reactions of other participants—such as a teaching team and learners—it “keeps track of all the interactions the participants have with their machines as they call for slides, sketches, designs, and simulations.”

Computer programs can at the same time record all that is going on in such an education event so that any question could be an `out of order’ interruption. Any comment or suggestion that would otherwise have been an interruption can be recorded so that the computer can keep track of all these sideline observations and bring them up when appropriate, or interject them as footnotes for future consideration by the automated co-lab editor to mark them for later discussion or decision-making. “Simulations are found or created to examine the implications or consequences of a plan or proposal. Co-lab editor software can already help in the creation of minutes or reports that grow out of the meeting, indexing and summarizing the session in hyperfile form,” including what was presented by speakers, in visuals, the whiteboard drawings, blueprints, 3+D simulations and links to databases. Immediately available immediately for review and study by instructor or learners, it could be automatically translated into another language. And if anyone has any dissatisfaction the entire session can be re-examined. These are but a few illustrations of transformations that emerging new technologies can work in a classroom.

One difference that technology offers to traditional classrooms and learning environments was illustrated by Bailey (1996) with a math example. A traditional classroom teacher, he said, usually presented a problem for each student to work on individually. Once someone had the answer—in a form approved by textbook or teacher--all others then stopped trying and listened to his result. The teacher then added some correction and explanation, and if the answer was approved, the teacher then went on to a next and perhaps more difficult problem. By contrast, in a class using advanced technology students can collaborate, working as a team on the problem. Instead of learning how one had `solved’ the problem, they can explore new possibilities, since there often is more than one way to solve a problem where creative thinking is sought. Also, learners can work on more advanced problems as no one of them could do alone. Bailey thus talks of new kinds of `inter-maths’ that make it possible to discover how the economy works, “or how the AIDS virus may behave” or how to help oil companies sort out geological and other data to find out where to drill for oil.

Actually, he said, this is nothing new. It simply speeds up the century old `rural network’ sort of discovery method where, for example, ideas for creating a farm wagon and gradually improving it across the centuries spread by word of mouth shared from village to village and farm to farm as thousand of wood workers, wheel makers, blacksmiths, farmers and others each shared a small bit of new understanding. Thus many important discoveries were not the work of one expert, but a sharing among generations of workers who experimented on the job. Information age technology now speeds up and empowers that sort of process through computer networks that can do the job in microseconds rather than across centuries. Perfect answers are not found, as in traditional maths that have sought “to make a bee line for the results.” Foraging for new ideas and processes to deal with “larger problems require larger networks.” Linked supercomputers “can shrink the centuries into seconds” and “the real learning goes on in the linkages.”

However, Bailey suggested, even when using new technologies, major universities are often still operating on industrial-age models. The established method of research--and is not this especially true in research about how to learn and teach--has “thousands of investigators crawl over potentially fertile ground”-- like in a gold rush where “most of them come up empty handed” or with a few small nuggets of discovery. It is now possible for the foragers to become part of a well-mapped system for holistic discovery. Bailey’s point is not that the efforts of amateur gold-rush searchers is necessarily futile but--if we apply his analogy to research for better education--merging new technologies begin to make it possible to coordinate such a ` search for gold,’ even the efforts of a crowd of amateurs, such for example as every high school student with a computer. Bailey reminds us that Charles Babbage “scoffed at the idea of ten thousand people cooperating on a task.” Yet today thousands of learners are already involved in projects like NASA's “Live From The Stratosphere.”  Some such students in the late 1900's were already beginning collective work electronically; perhaps because they were too young to know it to be impossible and because many university students were those who had already collected vast amounts of data--helpful, for example to environmental scientists—when they had been elementary school pupils.

Physicist Alfred Bork (3.3.2, 3.9) of the Educational Technology Center at the University of California, Irvine, says that the most dangerous experiment we can conduct is to keep schooling the same…at a time when every other aspect of our society is dramatically changing. He is especially concerned about science, where students are tested on small bits of knowledge, with little real assistance on how to learn big science. So there is not much excitement or passion in learning.

Already there are electronic classrooms that make use of the best features of the computer network and interactive TV. Takeshi Utsumi’s Global University project has registered terminology for a `global lecture hall’ (GLH) to demonstrate how learners could share in a dialog among the leading experts in a field who were thousands of miles away. One lecturer, invited by NASA to lecture to people at several locations said that in using television—as it now exists--he missed the two-way eye contact which is the only way he can be sure that students from other cultures and languages understand what he is saying. On the other hand, Utsumi’s demonstrations have shown that it is important for the technicians—partners in the teaching team--to be actively involved in planning the combination of technologies adequate to do the job in each unique situation. Much of this process can be automated in a specially designed building or electronic classroom, a studio or `situation room,’ which is specially equipped for the purpose. These presently available advanced technologies can help bring a virtual and global dimension into the residential campus and its learning environments, but only a fraction of the world’s learners can live on such campuses. So what can emerging new technologies do to help solve that problem? Many on-campus students are now using computer-based distance learning to augment their traditional studying style. Broadband digital networks and multicasting can be used to enhance the multimedia capacity of hundreds of classrooms across campus and link them with campus residence halls and libraries. Electronic mail, teleconferencing, and collaboration technology is transforming institutions from hierarchical, static organizations to networks of more dynamic and egalitarian communities. The most significant advantage of computer-mediated distant learning is access.  Perhaps we should substitute “distributed” for “distance” learning, since the new tools  have the capacity to enrich all of education, stimulating us to rethink education from the perspective of the learner. The rich resources and new forms of social interaction enabled by information technology create the possibility of the objective of “better than being there” for distributed learning environments.

Michael Dertouzos (1999) pointed out that TV and radio have for a half-century been used for lectures and panel presentation where listeners are invited to phone in questions. However only a few students can have the chance to phone in questions during a classroom lecture so “there is no interaction with the rest of viewers.” However, hundreds of thousands of questions could be posted on the web during a discussion, with software technology that would select those questions asked by the most learners. But effective education, involving millions of online students in the same electronic venue, must rely on local seminars for discussion and clarification. In this way small colleges (1.6) could share their best programs with each other while recognizing that the most important learning will take place in the local small personal seminars related to the distantly provided lecture and information.

How next can educators enrich the experiences and total environment of learners, first on campus and then in cyberspace? Restak (2001) pointed out that “throughout our lives the brain retains a high degree of plasticity,” changing in response to rich and varied experiences and environments.. Also the opposite can happen to change dull and boring experience by using graphics and techniques—like those used in creating motion pictures--to make virtual classrooms exciting as well as teaching instruments. For example, a resident campus can become `green,' that is new buildings can be constructed so that they do not pollute and so that there is no waste (as the factory that grows  grass on the roof which enables it to purify waste water before it is returned to a river), everything is recycled. However, that is too expensive to be accomplished in the foreseeable future. Never the less it is possible to experiment now with that on vsimulated campuses in cyberspace and to easily rebuild buildings over and over  to try alternatives. A simple need, Garfinkle (2003) has reported, will be for "facilities where teams of two or three students can get together to work on project" where they have sophisticated technology and wireless access. 


We have in this chapter spoken too much of buildings and not enough about learning. There is perhaps a metaphor, however, in the way students at Berea College have learned design an construction skills by building campus edifices themselves.  Perhaps next, students will themselves begin to construct many of the online and `virtual structures,' first as alternative models, and later functioning online learning places. This could logically begin with architectural students (See Mitchell 1996) and http://www.swarm.org. A 2001 Compaq computer advertisement said: “California State University, Monterey Bay, had a vision to create the first wireless public university to essentially turn the whole world into a classroom and we are going to help them do just that." As we consider possibilities for a global virtual higher education system we should pause to be wary of the word `globalization.’ When applied to education the term is used in several different ways. Throughout this online book we are looking for ways to provide adequate education for everyone in the world, as an essential element in preventing a disastrous future if the world’s population doubles again to ten or twelve billion people. We therefore propose more than an ability to take courses and receive degrees anywhere in the world. That alone will not accomplish a better future.

Can we conceive of post-digital online learning centers in virtual space; that can preserve the values of a residential campus and neighborhood school while transforming them? Already much of the socializing is gone from applying and registration that increasingly takes place on the Internet. All such routine matters on campus will increasingly be accomplished by automation of a sort that can be extended to the world. Students can access faculty websites and ask questions of teachers, advisors and librarians via e-mail. Much of this is not possible anywhere in the world but can be more personal when a counselor will be able to meet face-to-face with one student or a group via telecommunications. In 2002 the British Open University was preparing to offer a course in a virtual `chamber' for formal discussions and presentations. Nearby are side rooms for sub-meetings. Also there are `whisper areas'  where participants can engage in private conversations while keeping track of formal sessions. And unofficial discussions can be held in` virtual corridors.'

Already there are cyber cafes, cyber bookstores and cyber activities online. Many discussions take place online in `chat rooms.' Student clubs which are already beginning to be international can make it possible, for example, for a peace discussion in the US to involve students from other continents to hear their alternative views. Dunn (2001) diagrams university functions and suggests that diagramming the `Webcentric University’ can result in “a university which is a virtual universe,” connecting many communities, with cross-communication. A webcentric university, he says, connects every aspect of campus life with fast linkages to the rest of the world and to resources no one university alone could provide.

The DEOS online listserv (from Penn. State) often has discussed whether `distance education’ could ever provide the sort of faculty-student acquaintance that can happen on campus – although not much in classes of 600 students. Many students report that they are in closer touch with faculty and other class members on the Web, the same being said by many students on campus as well. Gershenfeld (2001) anticipated short terms on campus with much of a year’s academic work done on line. Many college students in residence find some of their best education during summer internships and other off-campus experiences. Bleed (2001) proposed “a drastic change in courses and facilities on campus.” His model “is 50 percent virtual instruction and 50 percent” on campus in “redesigned space.” It could reduce cost for buildings by fifty percent. Already, he says, 87 percent of American students commute to campus and no one figures those transportation costs into- the cost of their education. Some colleges now bring students to campus for a week or two of concentrated class work, with the rest of the term at home. Bleed would have them spend more of the time on campus socializing with students, getting personally acquainted with professors, mentoring and with many opportunities for small-group intellectual discussion. Once the facilities, software and content are available for study at home, there can be `digitally mediated environments’ for the kinds of lives and community that are desired.

In volume I we discussed some possible structures for a global virtual academic institution and administration, and in Volume II, (2.17 and 2.18) we initiated some discussion on a seamless lifelong availability of education and counseling through a `neighborhood learning center.’ But what will happen to sports, clubs, cultural, political, religious and hobby groups and professional services assisting students with health and dental care, psychological and career counseling, legal aid, financial assistance and so on? Designing a global virtual campus begins with the assumption that many learners will relate to it across a lifetime and at home. They can become adults at eighteen or sixteen and design their tailored learning plan around ways to support themselves while engaging in higher education. Dunn (2001) in his scenario has an undergraduate student earning money in Nashville by working with a company in London. Students, he says, will not want to pay for campus facilities they do not use. A survey of Australian students; for example, found that many want to move beyond the academic products, academic services and academic standards of a stereotypical modern university. A majority want cost-effective post-secondary learning that is offered where and when it is convenient for them.

Some college campuses already provide `multiple-tenant units” (MTUs) which—with technological facilities—can accommodate senior citizens and others who across a lifetime come for short courses or for help in pursuing their distant courses at home. Periods of time on campus provide socialization and faculty contacts and the skills for using the Internet for education at home. Roush (2005) has pointed out how new technologies also create new social space--blogging, text messing, cell phones with the capacity for meeting can be used "to join v`irtual communities" for social conferencing and facilitate professional social networking.  

At the same time students will want the online virtual global `campus’ to provide facilities of a sort few resident campuses could provide. There have, for example, at the turn of the century been proposals for one or more universities to create a `peace-planning center,’ a transdisciplinary building with telecommunication seminar rooms and comprehensive resources like a military `situation room,’ (see below) to bring many resources together for a larger and more holistic approach to peace—not as “what we are against, but to find new Marshall Plan type alternatives “that we are for.” Perhaps such a center should exist in cyberspace, connecting to and bringing together all peace research institutes, courses and projects from all over the world. It might bring together all programs in conflict resolution, political science, defense, negotiation, history for previous experience and much more. (See 1.7, chapter 7.) Such a `global research and action center’ might be created for every crisis and for over 46,000 major problems. And, most important they could involve classes everywhere and the idea could be applied to most human problems and most academic disciplines.

Academic structures created in global virtual space should in any case be easier to continually replace or rebuild than the brick and stone buildings of resident campuses. It is now difficult for us to imagine what glorious academic temples may sometime exist in virtual space two thousand years from now, something seen as more permanent in a different way, perhaps new kinds of institutions and traditions, in a continually changing human society.

Students, as a hobby have for some years been creating virtual rooms where from a distance they (their avatars) can meet In 2004 such avatars can begin to look like real people and show emotions, can even grow and change.. Perhaps students will soon begin to design virtual dormitories, eateries, discussion rooms, chapels, ideal classrooms and theaters and game rooms (intellectual games as well as physical sports?) As increasingly they design their own learning and meeting spaces, the global virtual education system may emerge gradually through student and faculty efforts. Duderstadt (2001) proposed that “the most dramatic impact of this technology on the educational role of the university will occur when learning experiences are reconceptualized to capture the power of this technology." Although the classroom is unlikely to disappear, at least in the sense of its role as a place where students and faculty can come together, the lecture experience of a faculty member addressing a group of relatively passive students does appear to be threatened by powerful new tools such as gaming technology, tele-immersion, tele-presence, and the simulation of physical phenomena. Sophisticated networks and software environments can be used to break the classroom loose from the constraints of space and time and make learning available to anyone, anyplace, at any time.”  <http://www.advanced.org/teleimmersion.html> <http://www.cs.brown.edu/~lsh/telei.html>.

In these new formats the attractiveness of computer-mediated distance learning is obvious for adult learners whose work or family obligations prevent attendance at conventional campuses. But perhaps more surprising is the degree to which many on-campus students are now using computer-based distance learning to augment their traditional education. Broadband digital networks and multicasting can be used to enhance the multimedia capacity of hundreds of classrooms across campus and link them with campus residence halls and libraries. Electronic mail, teleconferencing, and collaboration technology is transforming our institutions from hierarchical, static organizations to networks of more dynamic and egalitarian communities. The most significant advantage of computer-mediated distant learning is access. Perhaps we should substitute `distributed’ for `distance’ learning, since the powerful new tools provided by information technology have the capacity to enrich all of education, stimulating us to rethink education from the perspective of the learner. The rich resources and new forms of social interaction enabled by information technology create the possibility of the objective of “better than being there” for distributed learning environments.

But what about science labs? Forinast and Wisman (2001), stressing the fact that student experimentation is needed to understand science, reported on some kinds of technology that can make it possible for distant students to perform lab experiments. Indeed, some experiments—especially where students are merely repeating experiments “in which the results are already well known,” can be simulated on computers, with videos of real laboratories. Students can participate with ‘laboratory kits’ what have been sent to them. This can reduce the danger for students that might come from lasers, radioactive elements, high-voltage power supplies and dangerous chemicals. There can even be advantages in experiments “that monitor geographically distant phenomena such as weather and seism graphical data.” While adequate models and standards for online labs do not yet exist, they say, imagine “if students had been able to monitor local radiation levels….after…Chernobyl or nuclear tests.”
And next for the whole world.


Bill Joy (2005) lamented that we "focus on virtual reality for entertainment rather (than) for education." Yet humanity will soon have sufficient  computer power "to build interactive, immersive, and aware software" for intelligent rooms. So far also we underestimate the importance of "today's smart mobile devices" in the hands of learners. Here we ask questions about how to create  learning  environments that are more creative and imaginative than those described by John Leonard in Education and Ecstasy. To do so we need to forage in art, theater, and humanistic studies and probably into areas that at present seem unlikely sources for classroom enrichment; and classrooms with technology as sophisticated as that at military situation rooms. (Link) We begin to see new virtual classroom possibilities in demonstrations (Carlson 2001) of university students, future teachers, observing distant classrooms; for example urban and rural, as part of `virtual teaching.’ Now educators must begin to plan for the post-digital era.

The Internet, changing as it is commercialized, is less useful as a learning environment that nourishes the growth of individuals and communities. However, it is likely that a powerful network just for education will be created; where there will be specialized learning communities. The Internet enables an information ecosystem but educators need new frameworks for learning communities and collaboration. Jaron Lanier (2001) reported being a “frequent but reluctant user of videoconferencing.” Human interaction, he said, has both verbal and nonverbal elements, and “videoconferencing seems precisely configured to confound the nonverbal ones.” He says it is impossible to make eye contact properly, for instance, in today's videoconferencing systems, because the camera and the display screen cannot be in the same spot. This usually leads to a deadened and formal affect in interactions, eye contact being a nearly ubiquitous subconscious method of affirming trust. Furthermore, he reported that participants so far are not able “to establish a sense of position relative to one another and therefore have no clear way to direct attention, approval or disapproval.”

One aspect of what comes next to solve that—providing a post-digital empowerment for classrooms at both resident and virtual universities—will be tele-immersion, a new medium that creates the illusion that a learner is in the same physical space as other people, even though the others might in fact be continents away. “It combines the display and interaction techniques of virtual reality with new vision technologies that transcend the traditional limitations of a camera.” Thus it is possible to view distant participants from more than one vantage point. “Tele-immersion stations convey them as `moving sculptures,’ without favoring a single point of view. “The result is that all the participants, however distant, can share and explore a life-size space.”

While improving on videoconferencing, Lanier has said, tele-immersion can transform the classroom, involving little delay and inconsistency during large flows of information. It “sits at the crossroads of research in virtual reality and networking, as well as computer vision and user‑interface research.” Virtual reality brings together virtual worlds with networking, placing multiple and separated participants in a virtual space using head-mounted displays. More than the ability to send a much larger number of bits per second, it opens future `Internets’ to significant new ways of working and learning.

For example, Lanier has discussed how `tele-collaborators” (see 2.6) could—when widely separated--use a computer-generated medical model, “which both of them can manipulate as though it were a real object.” Thus each participant has a personal viewpoint of remote scenes--in fact, “two of them, because each eye must see from its own perspective to preserve a sense of depth. Furthermore, participants should be free to move about, so each person's perspective will be in constant motion.” At the same time tele-immersion demands that each scene be sensed in a manner that is not biased toward any particular viewpoint as is not possible with a camera locked into its own position. “Each remote site receives information describing the whole moving sculpture and renders viewpoints as needed local.” And “algorithms can piece together a three-dimensional model of the scene.” (On virtual reality in learning see <http://cbl.leeds.ac.uk/~euroaied/papers/Whitelock1/

DVD has provided some first immersive experiences and is opening the door for many new kinds of educational experiences. Lanier reported being “able to demonstrate tele-immersion for the first time on May 9, 2000, virtually bringing together three locations.” The delight of experiencing tele-immersion, he says, was unanticipated and incomparable. Seen through a pair of polarizing glasses, two walls of the cubicle dissolved into windows. “One promising avenue of exploration in the next few years will be routing tele-immersion processing through remote supercomputer centers in real time to gain access to superior computing power. In this case, a supercomputer will have to be fast enough to compensate for the extra delay caused by the travel time to and from its location.” When tele-immersion becomes commonplace, it will probably enable a wide variety of important applications. Teams of engineers might collaborate at great distances on computerized designs for new machines that can be tinkered with as though they were real models on a shared workbench. Archaeologists from around the world might experience being present during a crucial dig.” Tele-immersion may have surprising effects on human relationships and roles in distance learning, in classes as work teams.

Those who worry about how artists, musicians and authors will make a living as copyrights become harder and harder to enforce (as a result of widespread file copying) have often suggested that paid personal appearances are a solution, because personal interaction has more value in the moment than could be reproduced afterward from a file or recording. Tele-immersion could make aesthetic interactions practical and cheap enough to provide a different basis for commerce in the arts as well as for education. It is worth remembering that before the 20th century, all the arts were interactive. Musicians interacted directly with audience members, as did actors on a stage and poets in a garden. Tele-immersive forms of all these arts that emphasize immediacy, intimacy and personal responsiveness, Lanier says, might appear in answer to the crisis in copyright enforcement.  

Some instruction now begins to take place in electronic studio-classrooms and/or laboratories, “empowering environments,” especially designed for distance education. The term `situation room’ generally applies to a military command center that brings together in one place all of the information, electronic maps, data bases, and computer and communications technology needed for directing a military operation. Some multinational corporations also have such situation rooms that bring together all the technology, software, and information needed for business management and instruction. Such a studio, especially designed for electronic course instruction (preparation, transmission, and receiving) can first simply include all that can facilitate studying and teaching, such as e-books, computers to connect to electronic encyclopedias and data bases, videotape and CD-ROM or VCR players, telephone connections, and electronic blackboards. More sophisticated situation rooms can increasingly make use of computer simulations, “scientific visualization, graphical user interfaces, hypertext, hypermedia, object-oriented programming and visual languages,” (Spring 1990) and many other kinds of technology especially designed to empower particular kinds of research or teaching. And won’t much more ultimately be brought into the convergence package?

The term `situation room’ suggests a different combination of technologies for each different situation. For example, a medical student who is a continent away can watch a master surgeon operate, using camera eyes that may give a closer view than is possible for the student who stands beside the surgeon in the operating room. Students in one country can participate in a chemistry lab experiment taking place in another, watching, trying some of the experimentation themselves, and carrying on a conversation with the students and instructor in the distant laboratory. An electronic classroom designed for art or music (with, for example, something like the “creation station” developed at the University of Michigan) will therefore differ radically from one designed to teach agriculture. Musicians in two countries already can work together as if in the same room; and students now play along with an orchestra that is rehearsing in another country.

Opera houses—even long before imaginative new opera houses were created at the turn of the 21st century—“were a carefully designed `machine' for orchestrating experience.” Thousands of minds have been involved in creating the structures, design of the building, the drama, the musical score, the orchestra and all phases of permanence that require collective creativity and memory on a grand scale. One sees and hears the singers, the dancers, the orchestra but not “the huge distributed network operating behind the scenes. Using this collective apparatus and rich variety of technologies a large number of people are moved into “an extraordinary state of mind” and the consciousness of the audience may be illuminated. The new more highly technological opera house designed at M.I.T. now suggests a new kind of classroom. Hiller (2001) called attention to the `immersive cinema” at the Smithsonian Institution “that explores the systems of the human body.” What comes in 2020 may be beyond what most of us can now imagine, but some airports have had `mood rooms’ where one may lie down and adjust the controls for music and other helps to reduce depression, or boredom, or fatigue, to help one meditate and so forth. What does that suggest for a virtual campus?.

It is therefore important now to begin to prepare for many new and unexpected possibilities in global virtual  education. For a moment let’ s move beyond what is now possible and happening to suggest how a student can “be even more present” in a class that is a thousand miles away. The technology already exists, and demonstrations show the possibilities of various kinds of computer-managed “intelligent classrooms.” A virtual reality (simulated) classroom can enable a kind of education that more effectively uses all three ways in which people learn: the intellectual, the emotional (including art and imaging), and the kinesthetic (physical movement). Without leaving the actual classroom or home, students can travel through on-line simulations to distant museums, laboratories, or other cultures. David Traub (1990) proposed “virtual reality environments as an ideal milieu for learning,” but lamented the fact that they are likely to be first used in business, the military, and entertainment rather than in education “where…most needed.” His goal was “a simulation-based environment that. . . maximizes the user’s ability to control discovery.” Myron Krueger (1983), building on his experience at creating virtual reality rooms for museums, described how: physically handicapped students, confined at home, could through such a system “attend” a class, experiencing it as if really present; an entire class might “visit” and tour a museum in another city without leaving their classroom; virtual-reality technology could create a “history room” in which a scholar could enter a specific period of history or participate in a past event; two scholars separated by a great distance could share the same experience as if in the same room. Those interested in this technology and experimentation can find more detail in Krueger’s (1990) book Artificial Reality.

Howard Rheingold has pointed out that as yet we only have glimpses and primitive experiments, such as Alan Kay s “fantasy amplifier” or the imaginative “vivarium,” a virtual reality interdisciplinary learning place developed at MIT. What we see at present, he says, is like people at the turn of the century trying to understand the future possibilities of film by watching some of the first silent movies. With some amusement, he reminds us that when asked what TV might be used for, one of its inventors proposed that it would be used largely in hospitals to monitor patients.

The term “virtual classroom” was copyrighted and therefore in theory should be used only to refer to the use of the licensed software system for teaching and learning first developed on the EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System) based at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Its developers, Murray Turoff and S. R. Hiltz (1988) called this “new means of educational delivery for college-level and postgraduate professional education [a] teaching and learning space located with a computer-mediated communications system.” The Annenberg/CBP Project provided funds for its creation, implementation, evaluation, refining, and demonstration to make it possible to do globally what happens in a traditional class, plus “to produce interactive, didactic group learning activities, which improve on the typical class by making it more convenient, by providing more active participation, and self-pacing on the part of the learner.” It provided “class conferences” where students and teacher could meet on-line, a message system for private communications among them, and special software for activities such as tests and the creation and display of graphics. There could thus be constant interaction with feedback from the teacher wherever appropriate. We have already noted technology for classroom participation visually and other handicapped learners.

Itzkan (1994) on the basis or his experience—connecting classrooms in Boston and Japan—reported that the `global classroom’ might be seen in three perspectives: “(1) as an empowering learning environment, (2) as a complex of computers, networks and instructional resources, and (3) as a model for the future of education.” He found that it was facilitating the collaboration of students across many national boundaries. “The development of communities as a part of the learning process” (Palloff 1999) creates empowering learning experience.


Students have long been using computer conferencing and teleconferencing to reach out to students in other countries. One begins to see the emergence of a new kind of electronic global student community. Education by electronic means cannot in the foreseeable future be the same as in a campus face-to-face community, but an on-line global student community may be on the horizon. A “global campus” publication, Alternatives Journal, edited by students at Grinnell, was already in 1989 on a computer network for students in the United States and abroad and students in California  had a New Year's party with a group of graduate students in Moscow via the EIES computer network and slow-scan TV. ConnectEd (New School of Social Research--now New School University--in New York) had an electronic Halloween party with participants from Europe and the Middle East and has operated a “coffee house” for informal socializing among students in various countries enrolled in its courses. (See Ras­mussen et al. 1991 on socialization on-line among students in sixteen northern European universities.) Edward Yarrish (1991) found that the socialization processes that take place in the halls and cafeteria for on-campus students could also “be encouraged in the electronic university.”

An increasingly significant on-line global student community has been seen in global action projects in which students in various countries coordinate protest activities through computer networking—whether to preserve whales, clean up rivers, work for disarmament, or oppose racism. Student political activities and a wide variety of international action projects, student discussions, and other “intercollegiate activities” have occurred on the Peace Net computer net­work. Students in many countries have been on-line there and elsewhere for such action projects much more than is generally realized. Underlying tacit support for such activity was seen when the director of a public policy program at Harvard University said: “International connectivity…is an expression of [student] rights to further their individual interests on a global scale” (Branscomb 1989). As some clubs emerge on line will there in time be online international social fraternities and sororities?

More important, will there be authentic learning communities?  John Seely Brown (2001) has reminded us that "it is the learning communities that universities establish that remove them from the realm of a delivery service." The route from begin knowledge transmitters to becoming knowledge creators is much aided by a `social learning environment.' A residential campus can expose students to "multiple communities of scholars and practice, giving students access to to people from different fields, backgrounds and expectations." It is this opportunity that helps many learners find a major, a life interest, and join a professional community.  This often happens on campus as an `unintended consequence'.' Can it happen with deliberation through online learning opportunities? The best learning system will provide community access. 


A global virtual university should provide research and learning facilities for educators all over the world to use to explore the possibilities of post-digital technologies. So far what we have described is fundamentally a low-tech operation and not yet essentially involving the powers of high-speed high volume movement of digitally rendered information and transactions. That will require globalization of product, service, distribution and delivery. Meanwhile designers of future virtual `classrooms’ might take account of Vinton Cerf’s ideas about taking the Web into outer space. Cerf joined a team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to begin sketching out a wireless communications network that may ultimately connect space ships and other planets. “The project, dubbed Interplanetary Internet (IPN), calls for space probes and satellites to serve as Net gateways, an `interplanetary backbone’ conveying data packets to and from Earth and among themselves.” After several decades, once the hardware is in place around the solar system, “IPN promises near-continuous communications from space, driving costs down and increasing bandwidth" (an even more precious commodity outside Earth's orbit). Later on, Cerf envisions this interplanetary backbone plugging into our own terrestrial Net. Students might then log on to watch a webcam-equipped rover tour the Martian landscape.

In the 1990s, Dertouzos (1999) said that too much was being expected of multimedia--that uses text, sound, video and pictures--in the same application. Useful, he says, if they indeed work together to accomplish something you could not do before. What is needed, he proposed, is something more powerful--called intermodal--to make multiple media work together. When we examine the idea of providing education for everyone in the world via the Internet, we may not mean the Internet that now exists which may be dominated by commercial interests which one education document worries may become a sort of “commercial meat market.” Before this global infrastructure becomes what it ought to be to serve all kinds of needs in the world, perhaps Internet2 should be exclusively devoted to research; perhaps an Internet3 might be devoted to politics; an Internet3 to commerce; an Internet4 to primary and secondary education; an Internet 5 devoted to global higher education; an Internet 6 given over to commercial education services, linked of course to 4 and 5. In fact, of course, in the `Matrix” that may be the sequel to the present Internet; all of these specialized internets would be cross-linked for search purposes. But some of the educational Internets would require a password to enter, at least before one could insert information.

With more advanced technology, learners can participate in tele-conferencing. They can use software like Microsoft’s `Netmeeting' <http://www.micosoft.com/netmeeting/> for a virtual class, saving or printing what is said, what is put on a board, and video images of participants. Meanwhile, people in developing countries and those with limited technology can participate in a transnational classroom or share resources from one school to another. For that, Jonassen (2000) discusses the usefulness of Internet chat, bulletin boards, and MUDs (Multi-user domains) and MOOs where “millions of users” `meet’ worldwide in shared online environments. Participants can learn who else with them on line at a particular time and identify themselves with helpful information and then engage in conversation and activities. OHL (OfficeHoursLive), the Web Based Virtual Classroom in which instructors couldtalk live with students online suggesteds many new technologies to come; as did the software reported by Markoff (2002) that created a three-dimensional virtual world. Marriott (2003) described how the b best classroom experience can be restored for distance learners by using instantly interactive whiteboard to and from laptops.  For clues to where and how that might happen see <http://www.digitalspace.com/avatars>. Hundreds of virtual worlds have been built on the Internet. These worlds are inhabited by `avatars,’ the `body double’ of real people who meet there for all kinds of activities. (Montfort 2002) They are the forerunner of a magnificent virtual simulated global campus that can by be used by any learner in the world. (3.8) Then can it really be possible for the learner, instead of going to the campus, to bring the campus to wherever the learner is! Briggs (2002) foresees using virtual reality to send much more than e-mail, to send a specially created virtual world via the Web,  a "rich, information-full environment" as the place for experiences, as well as ideas.

 See the National Science Funded `Tapped In" campus (<http://www.tappedin.sri.com/info/images/campusmap.gif> One can go to the virtual `information desk' and be directed to classrooms where many kinds of discussions are taking place, often involving teachers in many parts of the world to exchange ideas and discuss problems.

Return to Chapter 3.3  |  Go to Chapter 3.5

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