This is a good summary article of the effect that distance education and online learning methods have had on the traditional classroom in higher education. It is also a strong likely scenario of what the future of a good portion of higher education institutions will look like in the near future.
The article points out that three things are driving the change:
1) The increasing demands of the knowledge based society and emphasis on lifelong learning and expectation that workers will be able to manage the process themselves.
2) Student expectations are changing with regard to the role of technology that they expect to take place in the learning process and workplace.
3) New technology has made information more freely available, collaboration among students easier and learning at the time, place and pace of the individual student possible.
I’d add a fourth thing that is driving the change. The cost of delivery of the new type of educational system holds some promise in controlling educational costs that have been growing faster than inflation for decades now.
The article details how the conditions above are shaping a new pedagogy where education is no longer subject, solely, to a geographical place, where the learning process is more of a partnership between student and teacher (more heterarchical and less hierarchical), and where technology plays a greater role in the process. Ultimately this may prepare students more fully for an economy where such characteristics are often commonplace.