Online lectures are a dream come true for some students. After all, you can attend a lecture straight after getting up from bed, without having to travel to the campus first. However, other students think that online classes are a nightmare, since you’re holed up in your room all day and hardly meet anyone during the course of the day. Hybrid teaching involves a combination of online classes and in-person classes, thus giving students more opportunity to choose what suits them best, which obviously requires more discipline on their part.

Freedom of choice

It is quieter than usual in the Theil Building. The students who have made it to the building have gathered at the student desks and near the coffee machines. Apart from their chatter, the place is quiet.

The quietude is mainly due to the new restrictions imposed on all education institutions, which came into effect on 16 November, under which no more than 75 students are allowed to be inside a lecture theatre at any given time. Due to this restriction, many students now receive hybrid teaching. Degree programmes that attract a large number of students have some students come to campus one week and others the next week, thus allowing everyone to enjoy both in-person and online classes.

For International Business Economics & Business (IBEB) students, the new restriction means that all their lectures are now taught online, as well. IBEB student Sofia Corral continually switches between in-person and online classes. “Some of the tutorials are not taught online. You can only attend them remotely if you have COVID.” Because classes are taught online as well as in the classroom, students have a choice of whichever format suits them best. They can decide for themselves when and where to watch the recorded lectures.

A different lens

Since seminars are taught both in person and online, situations sometimes arise that would not happen during regular in-person seminars. Communication and Media student Davide d’Annunzio thinks hybrid classes are ‘funny, because you get to see the classes in a different light’. For instance, some students attend Zoom meetings in their pyjamas, “since they clearly only just got up, at nine o’clock. They clearly felt like, ‘I’m here, but I’m not really awake’,” says Educational Sciences student Mandy de Zwart.

Hybrid teaching has its advantages, in that you can watch a recorded lecture at a later date and don’t have to commute to the campus, but the new instructional format also has its disadvantages. For instance, Ruben van Vliet, who is doing a combined Bachelor of Education and Master’s degree in Pedagogy and Education, feels that online seminars involve less interaction. “Everyone is waiting for others to speak up before unmuting.” In addition, students are left to their own devices more. In in-person seminars, there is a certain amount of social control, with students keeping an eye on each other. While attending online classes, students are left to their own devices.

Self discipline

IBEB student Navya Kala learned the hard way that discipline matters in such cases. “Hybrid classes require more discipline. I had to catch up on a lot of lectures, because I was given the opportunity to view them at a later date. I kept telling myself that I’d watch them at some point, but I never did.”

Davide believes that the ‘sad truth’ is that online teaching is here to stay. “The education system is undergoing great changes. I think we’ll end up with online teaching; that is the sad truth, but here’s hoping some classes will continue to be taught in person.” Sofia thinks that hybrid teaching will also become common in the future. “The fact that so many people can do a great degree programme without actually being on the spot is a major advantage.”