and it meets in a mall! The Bend Bulletin: has more
There are no professors in Virginia Techâ€™s largest classroom, only a sea of computers and red plastic cups.
In the Math Emporium, the computer is king, and instructors are reduced to roving guides. Lessons are self-paced, and help is delivered â€œon demandâ€ in a vast, windowless lab that is open 24 hours a day because computers never tire. A student in need of human aid plants a red cup atop a monitor.
The Emporium is the Wal-Mart of higher education, a triumph in economy of scale and a glimpse at a possible future of computer-led learning. Eight thousand students a year take introductory math in a space that once housed a discount department store. Four math instructors, none of them professors, lead seven courses with enrollments of 200 to 2,000. Students walk to class through a shopping mall, past a health club and a tanning salon, as ambient Muzak plays.
Sounds weird, but Virginia Tech students pass introductory math courses at a higher rate now than 15 years ago, when the Emporium was built. Can’t beat that.