Summary of “The Future of College Looks Like the Future of Retail”

As online learning extends its reach it is starting to run into a major obstacle: There are undeniable advantages, as traditional colleges have long known, to learning in a shared physical space.
Paucek is, for someone who runs an online-degree company, remarkably open about the importance of physical space: “The history of online education is a vast underestimation of the power of people,” he told me.
Some of the online students even traveled to Atlanta for commencement-the first time many of them had ever set foot on the campus.
Most of them are not designed to allow students to take just one course at a time or to toggle between online and face-to-face classes; taking a class on most campuses requires enrolling as a student in a full-fledged degree or certificate program and then choosing to participate exclusively in either online or in-person classes.
Several universities, including MIT, Penn, and Boston University, recently started a type of online degree called a “MicroMasters” as a way for students to begin work on a graduate degree without committing to a years-long program.
Such physical-digital experimentation can even alter the experiences of students already enrolled at physical college campuses.
75 percent of the 56,000 undergraduates at the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, took at least one online class at the school last year, even as they were enrolled in face-to-face courses.
Nearly a third of the university’s classes take place online, which officials say has eliminated the need to build at least five additional classroom buildings.

The orginal article.