Last year there were often technological issues, says Oldenkamp, but everything has changed since then. Two lecture halls on the ground floor of the Theil Building have now been designated as next-gen hybrid lecture halls. Here, there should be fewer delay and sync issues, two common problems in previous hybrid lectures. On her screen, the lecturer sees all the students at home via Zoom, and these students can also ask questions, just like students in the hall.
“Don’t be afraid of the systems. Just read everything carefully beforehand,” Oldenkamp advises colleagues who are slightly more digital phobic. In fact, she enjoys new technology, so immediately agreed to work with the new system in the pilot organised by the Center for Learning and Innovation.
On Tuesday morning, a couple of hours before her first lecture, she was ‘a bit nervous’, says Oldenkamp. After a quick briefing by the Media Support Centre, however, she felt confident. And justifiably: the lecture went almost without a hitch.
“There’s absolutely no delay, so I can just as easily answer questions from Zoom students as from the hall.” The only remaining issue is that students on Zoom can’t hear questions from students in the hall. “That means that I need to repeat the question, but I sometimes forgot to do that. So, I expressly told the students on Zoom to remind me. Hopefully, we’ll get a microphone in the hall.”
Much less delay
In the past, Oldenkamp sometimes used a catchbox, a throwable microphone. However, due to the risk of infection, she doesn’t think that’s such a good idea. And students putting their hands up on Zoom doesn’t work either. She tells them to just interrupt her. “I don’t see those hands. I’ve noticed that some students don’t like suddenly being heard in the hall via Zoom. I therefore schedule an extra hour after each lecture for questions. To be honest, I hadn’t expected there to be so many after the first introductory lecture, but we needed the entire hour.”
Hybrid lectures were given last academic year too, but they used a different, less advanced system. “It operated via an American provider,” Oldenkamp explains. “The visual quality was excellent, but we had a lot of delay on the line. Sometimes I’d be asked questions about subjects I’d addressed two minutes previously. That meant going back, which was quite disruptive.”