Virtual learning demands a harsher regime

October 6, 2000

Virtual universities built without redesigning the basic structures of institutions are doomed to failure, according to new research, writes Alison Utley.

James Cornford, of Newcastle University's Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, has analysed teaching initiatives at universities in the northeast that used new technologies. Each project stalled after a few months.

The reasons for failure were various, Mr Cornford told a symposium at Newcastle, but all the projects failed to get the necessary backing from academics, students, computer services and libraries. There was also demand for a more corporate institution in which goals and procedures were standardised, Mr Cornford said. "The closer institutions move to a virtual university, the more corporate they become. The price of the flexibility that information technology brings might be a harsher institutional environment."

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