Canceling My Netflix DVD Plan & The Last New Lecture Hall

Thinking about change.

May 20, 2015
This week I (finally) cancelled my Netflix DVD monthly plan.  The reason: HBO Now and Netflix original programming.   2015 is the first year that I can get enough high quality video entertainment without relying on physical DVDs to come in the mail.  (And without paying a monthly cable or satellite subscription).
Canceling my Netflix DVD-by-mail plan feels like a moment to reflect.  I’ve been getting those red envelopes in the mail since 2003.  My first Netflix rental was the 2002 documentary e-Dreams.

Finally ending my investment in physical DVDs has caused me to think about how higher education is changing.  (Not a surprise - everything makes me think of how higher ed is changing).

When will the last traditional (tiered) lecture hall be built?
When will the people who decide what academic buildings to construct (or renovate) finally decide that they will not build (or renovate) one more traditional lecture hall?
When will higher ed have a similar moment when it comes to tiered lectures halls that I had this week with DVDs by mail?
I am not saying that the classroom is dead.  Far from it.  If anything that online education (and online education at scale) has taught us, it is that the physical is more important than ever.
The future of learning is blended. 
There is nothing more conducive or catalytic to an authentic education than a built environment designed to support learning. Good education spaces enable and encourage collaboration, conversation, and shared work.  Good education spaces take into account the social nature of learning.
The traditional tiered lecture hall has had a good run. Every campus has great lecturers, and great lectures should be a part of any education. We should all have fewer but much nicer auditoriums - spaces that can be used for lecture classes when lecture is the most appropriate pedagogical approach. Places with comfortable seats, terrific acoustics, well-thought out sight lines, and the very best and brightest screens that money can buy. (Not to mention strong WiFi and advanced but simple A/V controls).   
Our other physical learning spaces should be flat and flexible. Seats and tables should be easy to re-arrange for a lecture and for group work. Movable tables and lots of whiteboards and screens are the way to go.
Have you given up your DVD-by-mail plan?
Will your campus build or renovate another traditional (tiered) lecture hall?
What can we learn from Netflix about change in higher ed?


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