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The Future of Higher Learning: Classrooms Optional

By Jason Kohn, Contributing Columnist

Reading David’s post on “TEDTalks” got me thinking about how we conceive of the classroom and what the future holds for higher learning. How important is the traditional college experience in a world where ubiquitous broadband networks let us see and interact with teachers virtually, from anywhere in the world?

In his 1854 essay “The Idea of a University,” John Henry Newman argued why, even in an age when knowledge was widely accessible in books, the college experience was still vital:

“The general principles of any study you may learn by books at home; but the detail, the colour, the tone, the air, the life which makes it live in us, you must catch all these from those in whom it lives already. You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome. …we must come to the teachers of wisdom to learn wisdom.”

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