The ability to watch a lecture at a time of your own choosing. If there is one aspect of pandemic-time teaching that students wish to retain, it is this. Two-thirds of respondents said they would like to receive a hybrid type of teaching allowing them to watch lectures at a time of their own choosing.

Offline, online or hybrid? The future of education is very uncertain due to the corona crisis. Will everything change, or will everything return to normal? In this theme week, EM looks from all sides at what corona education has meant for students and teachers, how it can be improved and what we need to get rid of as soon as possible.

Studying made easier

Illustratie enquete toekomst onderwijs klein2 – Esther Dijkstra
Image credit: Esther Dijkstra

Some students like to view lectures online for practical reasons. “It saves me a time-consuming commute. This is time I really need for other things, being a part-time student with a job and a family,” said an ESL student who would like to come to the campus more often but doesn’t really have the time.

“I have my own company, which sometimes requires me to work at unconventional hours,” wrote a 24-year-old ESE student. “As a result, in-person classes don’t always fit into my schedule.”

A mother who is doing a degree said that being able to watch lectures after the fact, at a more convenient time, makes studying easier for her. “It allows me, a mother who is juggling a degree programme and kids, to join in and not miss a thing. If it weren’t for this, I wouldn’t be able to do so. So that’s definitely a plus, as far as I’m concerned.” Some of her lectures are taught on a day of the week on which no one can look after her youngest son.

Pausing complicated moments

Some students prefer online teaching due to the risk of infection inherent in attending classes in person. “In times such as this, when the healthcare system is coming under a lot of pressure, it sometimes feels unsafe [to go to campus],” said a third-year philosophy student.

Many students said that being able to watch lectures after the fact helps them get a better understanding of the subject matter. “It gives us freedom and allows us to view things at our own pace. For instance, we can pause the video when things get complicated,” an ESSB student told us. “In addition, it’s easier for me to focus on the lecture at home, rather than in a lecture room where I’m surrounded by friends.”

Few on-campus seminars

Although many classes were able to be taught on campus without any restrictions earlier this academic year,1 we found that one in five students had not attended a single lecture or seminar in person since 1 September. Another 13 per cent indicated that they had attended in-person classes less than once per week. This was partly because many courses were still being taught online or in a hybrid manner. One-third of students said they were taking courses this term that were taught fully online.

We found that hybrid classes have become very common. For instance, 85 per cent of respondents said they had taken courses this academic year in which they were able to watch video-recorded lectures at a time of their choosing.

Livestreams not popular

Classes where some students attend a lecture or seminar in person while others watch it remotely have become quite common, as well. Eighty-two per cent of respondents indicated that they had taken courses this academic year in which this instructional format was used.

This format proved to be a lot less popular. Only 10 per cent of students said it was their preferred method. “This format is very exhausting. Online lectures are better, but in-person classes are the best,” said an EUC student who is not a fan of following in-person seminars remotely.

Motivation

Illustratie enquete toekomst onderwijs klein1 – Esther Dijkstra
Image credit: Esther Dijkstra

There aren’t many students who would prefer to have all their classes taught online – only 12 per cent of respondents. An even smaller percentage indicated a preference for in-person classes only (10 per cent). The latter students said that attending classes on campus helped them stay motivated.

“I find online lectures hard to follow. Attending a lecture in person provides me with more structure, routine and rhythm, and I feel like I learn more”, an EUC student told us. “In-person classes are more motivating for me, and I get to talk to my fellow students.”

A bachelor student attending ESSB thinks he or she may even quit if the majority of his or her classes continue to be taught online: “I really, genuinely fear that things will remain largely like this in future. It makes being a student a lot less fun. I feel like a working person who’s getting a degree on the side rather than the other way around. If things stay this way, I don’t think I’ll get another degree after my Bachelor’s, even though I was considering doing two Master’s degrees before the pandemic.”

About this survey

Between 4 and 15 November (i.e. just before their classes changed due to the current mild lockdown), 292 students completed a survey held by Erasmus Magazine. They answered questions about what their courses are like this academic year, which aspects of lockdown-time teaching they do and don’t miss, and which aspects of the online teaching they have received in the past year and a half they wish to keep. The survey was taken by students attending all EUR faculties, ranging from first-year students to PhD students. About a quarter of respondents are international students.

Social aspects

Many lecturers currently allow their students to decide for themselves whether to attend lectures in person or remotely (be it while the lecture is being presented or later, at a time of their own choosing). Twenty-four per cent of respondents said they won’t go to campus if given the choice. However, quite a few students do want to go to campus: some 40 per cent of respondents said they often or always attend lectures in person, given the opportunity to do so.

Students are not highly motivated to go to campus to attend lectures. When we asked them which types of classes they preferred to attend online, 60 per cent said lectures. However, students generally prefer to attend seminars and sit exams on campus.

Many students indicated that the social aspects of student life matter to them. Meeting friends and fellow students in person is an activity that was mentioned by many. Well over two-thirds of respondents said this is important to them. “I’ve realised in the last year and a half how important it is to have your fellow students around you,” a third-year RSM student told us.

Illustratie online onderwijs themaweek – Elzeline Kooy

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  1. The survey was carried out and completed before 15 November. Since then, new restrictions have been imposed on classes, such as a maximum group size of 75 students. ↩︎