Empty classrooms and online learning

A study conducted by the University System of Georgia found that its buildings are only in use 25 percent of the work week.

The University System of Georgia’s buildings are empty about 75 percent of the work week, a study conducted by the system has found. The findings have already prompted some system building projects to be halted and other universities to consider similar studies on their own campuses.

According to the study, which examined all 31 of Georgia’s public universities, the low use may be because of the way most residential campuses condense the school day to fit between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

As a potential solution, the researchers suggest forgetting about those “peak hours” and spreading the classroom use throughout the day, aiming for the buildings to be used 40 hours per week.

The findings could be used by advocates of online learning to suggest another alternative: focus less on physical learning spaces.

“Some institutions have run into something like this,” said Russ Poulin, deputy director for research and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. “They may be growing a lot but they’re landlocked. It can be so expensive to buy space downtown, for example, so schools have started going to blended learning and renting out places.”

While the study has reportedly resulted in some building projects in Georgia being put on hold, space utilization is not always a major consideration when colleges build new academic spaces.

If a university is creating a prestigious new school, it’s not uncommon to hope for a new building to house it.

See Page 2 for how a new classroom building can be like a free puppy.

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