Many in the class seem to agree that the classroom provides some value over entirely remote learning approaches, and many stated advantages are in the area of how well the teacher is able to monitor student engagement (e.g. catch a sleeping or slacking student, detect the end of an attention span, etc.)
In a hypothetical environment where students are more mature – or at least more motivated – and are able to reliably self-police their engagement, to what extent does the value of a classroom meeting diminish? Some students thrive in personal face-to-face conversation, and this should be encouraged, but video chat and video conference technologies are getting to be remarkably smooth and reliable, and study sessions with other students and the professor or teaching assistants may be more use of time spent together. Additionally, the internet has made a ton of information available for interested students of any topic. Wikipedia has a Wikiversity branch in which volunteers put together lesson plans and reading on topics ranging from religion to engineering. Admittedly, the content currently available is pretty limited, but it is sure to grow, and there are myriad other similarly open resources. I think that a suitably motivated student could self educate to a remarkable level of understanding simply by consuming existing online material, participating in online forums, and even jumping into contributing to wikipedia pages. Oh, if only I could reach such hypothetical maturity! :)
I’m not saying the classroom isn’t valuable. After all, even internet nerds see the value in meeting often for conferences and symposia. It’s thrilling to experience the amount of learning that can happen in such a short span when lots of motivated individuals get together in person, but I think it’s a mistake to rest on the classroom as mostly a tool for policing lazy students.