For many lecturers and students, the new coronavirus measures in higher education came as a huge surprise. Jacco van Sterkenburg was one of them. The ‘Race’, inclusion and communications professor had scheduled a large lecture for 320 Media & Communications master students. He found it ‘quite annoying’ when he heard the news on Friday evening that just 75 students would now be allowed in a lecture hall.
“I’d not heard anything about this in the news in advance,” he explained. “I understand that the new measures are necessary, but this is unsettling. It would’ve been good if we’d had a working day to arrange everything, instead of having to do it all at the weekend.”
The professor’s weekend was filled with e-mails and messages about potential solutions. “I simply prefer giving lectures on campus as that always works best. I first wanted to split the group so that everyone could come to the campus at different times. But I only have two more opportunities to give lectures. 320 students spread over two lectures is still way over the 75 per time.” The lecture for the Methods of Media Research II course eventually didn’t go ahead on Monday morning, although students were able to watch a video recorded last year.
Offline for those who prefer
Van Sterkenburg will be using enrolment for the next two lectures. “Then motivated students can still come to campus and everyone who doesn’t feel comfortable can watch the video recordings or livestreams.” According to him, at the last lecture some students didn’t feel entirely comfortable in a full lecture hall, so video is a good solution for them.
And fortunately, the most important component of the course, the seminars, can continue as planned. “We do those in groups of twenty students, so for now that’s no problem. If that also needs to move online… Well, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen!”