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The theory and practice of the Virtual University: working through the work of making work mobile

By N. Pollock and J. (external) Cornford

Abstract

What does the recent application of information communication technologies (ICTs) in higher\ud education, and particularly the emergence of digital, online or virtual universities hold for the future shape\ud of established, campus-based universities? The increasingly popular answer is that these ‘placeless’\ud institutions have the potential to reshape traditional university geographies, as well as the methods,\ud relationships, and perhaps even the ‘ethos’ of the academy. This prospect is perhaps captured best by Tom\ud Abeles, who claims that ‘… students who once travelled great distances to listen to lectures of scholars, can\ud now access this knowledge via the world of the internet’. Presented in such language , it is easy to be\ud seduced by the suggestion that we are nearing ‘the end of campus based education’, or that the university’s\ud role in the creation, preservation and transmission of knowledge is to be usurped by telecommunications\ud networks -- in the process of which traditional institutions are destined to become ‘dinosaurs’. For all that has been written, however, research suggests that corporate virtual institutions\ud represent a tiny fraction of current higher education provision, and that their significance lies not so much\ud in their actual number or market share, but in the pressures that they bring to bear on the rest of the higher\ud education sector to adopt their methods, strategies and technologies. With such changes, albeit small scale,\ud catching the imagination of policy-makers and managers, it would seem that universities everywhere have\ud plans to deliver established courses using new technologies and at a distance. Indeed, such is the\ud enthusiasm and activity that some suggest a ‘blurring of the boundaries between distance education and on-campus teaching’.10 However, given that much of the work of building ICTs into higher education is taking\ud place in existing institutions, the question that requires answering is: ‘how are universities attempting to\ud come to terms with these new technologies?

Topics: Economics
Publisher: Springer
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1023/A:1020977705523
OAI identifier: oai:www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk:1842/3252
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