Designing a Virtual Campus

Robert Domaingue
Kansas State University

At this stage many of us are focusing on the design elements of single courses offered through the WWW. But as soon as we move beyond a single course we begin to think about degree and noncredit programs. A degree is far more than the sum of many isolated courses. If the degrees we offer through the WWW are to be compared with degrees offered on a campus we must examine those elements which must be transfered into the virtual realm. The best way of doing this is to design a virtual campus which will meet the needs of students in the same ways that a physical campus does.

This raises many questions however. What needs are met for students on a physical campus? How many of these needs can be met in the virtual realm? What are the best ways of doing this? What additional features can be developed in the virtual campus that are lacking on the physical campus? What are some of the tools we can use in our virtual campuses (webchat, 3-D graphic user interfaces, simulations, user built areas, etc.)?

There are three different levels of learning which can occur on a physical campus. These are technical learning (learning how, learning from information transfer), learning for meaning (gaining greater understanding, change in perspective), and emancipatory learning (transformational learning, realizing your potential, gaining greater control over your life). Many of the "virtual" campuses or collection of courses which are being developed now focus almost exclusively on the technical level of learning - information transfer. If we are to have viable web-based campuses then I believe we must design for all three levels of learning to occur.

An outline of this presentation is available at: