Page 2 | Another year online?

(785 Posts)
Ellewoods20 Wed 05-May-21 17:42:03

Despite the easing of restrictions in June, some universities have informed students that lectures will remain online in the next academic year. What’s the point? sad

OP’s posts: |
dreamingbohemian Thu 06-May-21 15:39:13

user1497207191

*@dreamingbohemian* So the priority is definitely to have face to face for seminars -- that's what students want the most. They definitely seem less bothered about the huge lectures being online.

Has there been proper research and student's surveyed in a properly organised/managed questionnaire for that assertion?

In my department we have done a massive amount of engagement with students all year -- surveys, focus groups, regular meetings with student reps, you name it. The overwhelming message is that they want the social side of things to reopen and they want f2f seminars/discussions. That is what will happen in September.

When we ask about large lectures online, there is a small minority that is unhappy about this and the rest are split between people who prefer online and people who are not bothered either way.

Our plan is to have large lectures online in Term 1 and hopefully f2f in Term 2. Believe me, we are all desperate to get back to f2f.

The problem is that all the arrangements for September need to be done now and the government has still not said for sure what restrictions might be in place then. If we still have to have social distancing (which has not been decided for sure) then large lectures will be almost impossible. So universities are being cautious for Term 1 at least.

My university has 30,000 students across 300 courses and 5 campuses. It's very difficult to make quick and last-minute decisions, so people are being cautious. Universities made a lot of bad decisions last year under pressure and no one wants to do that again.

Xenia Thu 06-May-21 15:41:17

There is a massive gulf between parents/students on one side and lecturers on the other. The parents and students want the normal lectures as we have had for the past 20 years. The lecturers like the online stuff.

Last summer students were conned with meal mouthed words about mixture of blended learning which in reality meant just about nothing face to face unless you study in a lab or are a doctor type of degree. This summer parents/students are wised up about it all and will be looking to have assurances eg you will have x number of hours every week which is face to face come what may or zero face to face.

They will want to know if meals will be served in the halls of residence in person with people allowed to sit at tables close to others in the usual way or if they will in effect be in some kind of jail like situation with meals on plastic trays in tiny cell type bed rooms

AllThatisSolid Thu 06-May-21 15:42:35

last Summer when Unis promised things they knew they weren't going to deliver, i.e. promising "blended" learning when they'd already told their lecturers not to return to campus!

We knew no such things - we were planning for various eventualities. We were suffering under government "leadership" & guidance which was more useless than a chocolate teapot.

Universities were not in a position to "promise" anything, and as far as I know, most didn't. They committed to in person teaching as much as possible, but within government and public health COVID safety guidelines.

At my university, we had to make choices about what we could accommodate space-wise as in-person teaching We prioritised certain areas of teaching and certain cohorts of students for in person teaching. We also had to accommodate staff & students who were clinically vulnerable.

My regional university town had quite low rates of infections through to September last year - mostly (very sadly) concentrated in care homes. As soon as the students returned, infection rates multiplied by a factor of around 10 - from 100 a week to over a 1000. We needed to be very careful for everyone's safety.

Badbadbunny Thu 06-May-21 15:43:21

So, they're expecting students (most of whom live near campus but off site) to go to the campus for 1 or 2 tutorials/seminars per day, but then rush back to their accommodation to sit and watch the lectures in between? How's that going to work? There aren't enough study spaces/desks/PCs on campus for everyone to have a space to watch lectures if they're on campus for the day. What will all the lecture theatres be used for if there aren't any real lectures? I think it's time the Unis publicised their plans for what they think is "blended learning" so they can be scrutinised for the "unforeseen" consequences. Students deserve to know, in detail, what they're signing up for.

AllThatisSolid Thu 06-May-21 15:44:42

There is a massive gulf between parents/students on one side and lecturers on the other. The parents and students want the normal lectures as we have had for the past 20 years. The lecturers like the online stuff.

Generalisations don't help.

And one might assume that lecturers - actually working in HE - know far more about the complexities of running institutions of 20, 000 students plus thousands of staff members, rather more than parents or students.

Badbadbunny Thu 06-May-21 15:45:49

AllThatisSolid

*last Summer when Unis promised things they knew they weren't going to deliver, i.e. promising "blended" learning when they'd already told their lecturers not to return to campus!*

We knew no such things - we were planning for various eventualities. We were suffering under government "leadership" & guidance which was more useless than a chocolate teapot.

Universities were not in a position to "promise" anything, and as far as I know, most didn't. They committed to in person teaching as much as possible, but within government and public health COVID safety guidelines.

At my university, we had to make choices about what we could accommodate space-wise as in-person teaching We prioritised certain areas of teaching and certain cohorts of students for in person teaching. We also had to accommodate staff & students who were clinically vulnerable.

My regional university town had quite low rates of infections through to September last year - mostly (very sadly) concentrated in care homes. As soon as the students returned, infection rates multiplied by a factor of around 10 - from 100 a week to over a 1000. We needed to be very careful for everyone's safety.

Perhaps if Unis had been honest, there wouldn't have been the huge movement of students which caused the covid outbreaks. Many would have stayed at home and studied. But, of course, the Unis didn't want that did they? They wanted the student's money for accommodation, customers for their campus shops/cafes/bars, etc. A lot of students would have stayed at home had they known what reality of campus life would have been last Autumn.

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Badbadbunny Thu 06-May-21 15:46:37

AllThatisSolid

*There is a massive gulf between parents/students on one side and lecturers on the other. The parents and students want the normal lectures as we have had for the past 20 years. The lecturers like the online stuff.*

Generalisations don't help.

And one might assume that lecturers - actually working in HE - know far more about the complexities of running institutions of 20, 000 students plus thousands of staff members, rather more than parents or students.

Maybe, but parents and students are the paying customers.

AllThatisSolid Thu 06-May-21 15:47:30

* they're expecting students (most of whom live near campus but off site) to go to the campus for 1 or 2 tutorials/seminars per day, but then rush back to their accommodation to sit and watch the lectures in between? How's that going to work? *

Don't be daft. If we still have to do some lectures online, they'll be recorded and downloadable. So your fantasy of students "running back home" is just that - a fantasy!

My students liked me doing a couple of 20-30 minute introductions to our topics each week - it was clear from their seminar discussions, that they watched them & learnt from them - they asked questions, or raised points, based on my recorded introductions. It meant we could use the seminar time to get down to a detailed exploration of their thinking on that week's topic.

titchy Thu 06-May-21 15:47:45

* There is a massive gulf between parents/students on one side and lecturers on the other. The parents and students want the normal lectures as we have had for the past 20 years. The lecturers like the online stuff.*

Pretty much all of that statement is incorrect! Parents may well want face
to face lectures in big lecture theatres as they had twenty year ago.

But the evidence from students is that no, the majority don't particularly want that - most don't turn up. They watch it later. They DO want tutorials, seminars and practicals face to face.

Lecturers tend to prefer face to face too. Very few actively prefer lecturing to a screen of muted and video switched off students.

Newgirls Thu 06-May-21 15:57:13

I don’t think student surveys done in Jan in the peak of a global pandemic can count for anything? Surely they should be redone?

Gov has said social distancing to go in June UNLESS new issues occur. So why are unis planning for a worse case scenario than this? Schools aren’t.

Badbadbunny Thu 06-May-21 16:00:47

Newgirls

I don’t think student surveys done in Jan in the peak of a global pandemic can count for anything? Surely they should be redone?

Gov has said social distancing to go in June UNLESS new issues occur. So why are unis planning for a worse case scenario than this? Schools aren’t.

I agree. The current plan/roadmap is for there not to be social distancing by the time Uni's re-open. Uni's "Plan A" should be no social distancing and normality. There's no justification at all for them to continue going above and beyond the restrictions. By all means have a "Plan B" in case there are restrictions, but that is the contingency, not the expectation.

Newgirls Thu 06-May-21 16:05:02

Yep bad bunny. It’s fast moving so I get that unis have tried to plan but it should only be plan b. We even have boosters planned now. It seems international students eg the USA ones are doing well with vaccines too. Any international students who don’t have vaccines yet can test or get them through their uni or as part of nhs when they arrive? It feels like solutions to all scenarios are now possible. Thank heavens.

mumsneedwine Thu 06-May-21 16:25:58

My 2 DDs course reps have done surveys and 90% for both want face to face lectures back.

dreamingbohemian Thu 06-May-21 16:27:17

After a year of being lambasted for lying and laziness and everything else you see on this thread already, universities do not want to promise anything they can't deliver.

They know that they can do online lectures with f2f seminars. Barring a huge new wave, that is doable whatever restrictions still exist. Everyone says they want certainty and honesty, well that is what universities can deliver with any certainty.

If universities plan for no restrictions and promise everything f2f, and then it turns out that's not possible, they will be accused again of lying and being lazy etc and so on. And it's not as simple as 'initiate the contingency plan', we are talking about enormous institutions, not a single school or cinema or pub or whatever.

The government has not confirmed social distancing will end in June. They are only saying there's a good chance it will. And whatever the politicians say, scientists still want us to be cautious. So we don't know for sure yet.

PantTwizzler Thu 06-May-21 16:35:59

Universities don’t go back until late September at the earliest. There’s a big gap between June and September to work things out. No need to announce in April/May that lectures will be online.

All this talk of vulnerable staff and students. Won’t they have had 2 doses of vaccine plus booster by then? And what about the students with dyslexia etc for whom online learning is a disaster. Don’t their needs get taken into account?

It’s really peculiar that university staff would try to claim special status in this way. When so many others are just getting in with their jobs — in as safe a way as possible — and universities are some weird different category.

I’m not tarring all universities with the same brush. My DD has had as good an experience as could have been expected including some f2f. My DS has had a terrible time with no f2f, very few social opportunities — an expensive, stressful prison cell.

Newgirls Thu 06-May-21 16:37:58

It’s not promising something new though? It’s going back to old? Surely that should be easier/simpler all round. Cheaper too.

My dd hasn’t been asked about sept preferences. She will be going into second year.

Newgirls Thu 06-May-21 16:40:30

On a separate note a 17 year old friend of ours is doing a residential at cambridge using their lecture theatres etc. It costs a fortune. It seems a way has been found for certain activities.

Newgirls Thu 06-May-21 16:41:29

In august

AllThatisSolid Thu 06-May-21 16:48:56

parents and students are the paying customers

Actually, not.

The tax payer largely subsidises tuition fee loans, and maintenance loans.

Students are not customers: they are offered an opportunity to study for a qualification. They don't buy a degree.

AllThatisSolid Thu 06-May-21 16:50:32

What @dreamingbohemian says.

mumsneedwine Thu 06-May-21 17:04:41

If all course reps survey their year groups then the Unis will have a very clear idea of who wants f2f.
Everywhere else is planning to be a back to normal in September. No one should be planning anything but normal for then. Have a Plan B but first option is normality.

Xenia Thu 06-May-21 17:11:18

The library is important to my son. His university life basically for 3 years until covid was go to the library almost every day and sit in there and work with friends so knowing if that can go back to how it was with no masks, no distancing and no booking would be really really useful to know.

I would like universities to be at the forefront of protest - pushing the state to the limit, litigating against any regulations and legislation, push push pushing to get our rights and freedoms back. Instead they have acted like the most cautious of the cautious. Surely if most people have had a vaccine by September and our only goal has ever been to stop the NHS being over crowded we could go back to university circa 2 years ago in September come what may.

zafferana Thu 06-May-21 17:14:02

I'd have LOVED online lectures when I was a student. I always had 9am ones, which used to kill me! As long as everything else is in person (tutorials, labs, practicals of all kinds), I really don't see why having lectures online, in the comfort of your own room is a problem.

dreamingbohemian Thu 06-May-21 17:30:40

Xenia

The library is important to my son. His university life basically for 3 years until covid was go to the library almost every day and sit in there and work with friends so knowing if that can go back to how it was with no masks, no distancing and no booking would be really really useful to know.

I would like universities to be at the forefront of protest - pushing the state to the limit, litigating against any regulations and legislation, push push pushing to get our rights and freedoms back. Instead they have acted like the most cautious of the cautious. Surely if most people have had a vaccine by September and our only goal has ever been to stop the NHS being over crowded we could go back to university circa 2 years ago in September come what may.

You do realise universities are utterly dependent on the government, right? For money? For student caps? For policies that govern every single aspect of their existence? For even existing at all, the government can decide to close a university.

Just like most people with unreasonable bosses don't stage a workplace revolt, universities have a lot of reasons not to push the government too hard.

DrEllie Thu 06-May-21 17:45:26

I'm a Lecturer, have been for almost 20 years. I've never worked as hard as I have this past year - my colleagues and I had to learn new technologies with no training or time. A combination of online and face to face means doing everything at least 3 times. Student needs - educational and welfare - have grown hugely. DD1 started her 1st year at a different uni this year so I can see both sides (plus I care about my students and their learning, mental health). I hate doing online lectures and would much rather be doing them in person, but the idea that hundreds of students inside lecture theatres often without good ventilation is not a good one for the students or staff (many of whom.are high risk through age, ethnicity etc). Why do so many think we are skiving? I am regularly working every wekend and evening.

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