In response to the lockdown situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students and teachers have made huge efforts to switch to teaching and learning online. Many of us are wondering what education and research will be like after this. What will happen if physical distancing continues to be necessary for an extended period? What will happen to online learning? A sociohistorical approach can help us to make decisions in the present.
When universities first came into existence in the Middle Ages, students came from all over Europe to attend them. To protect these new travellers from the dangers of their peregrinatio academica, the authorities had to issue protections, while professors and students began organizing themselves into guilds or corporations (universitas) for the purposes of cooperation, self-defence, institutional development and assurance of continuity.