BRUSSELS (Brussels Morning) – Despite the fact that students are allowed to return to campus, the auditoriums remain surprisingly empty. Many students still choose to view the lesson recordings online. Most students at the VUB also prefer this new way of teaching.
After months of online classes, student life has finally fully resumed. Yet the auditoriums often remain quite empty. A survey by Het Nieuwsblad shows that only a third to half of the students physically show up for the lectures. This is also the case at the VUB, BRUZZ learns. Lecturers notice that lessons that are also recorded are almost no longer taken at the university. And they regret that.
“This is very demotivating for teachers. You also enjoy yourself less online and then the lessons are a lot more boring,” says retired Labour Law professor Wilfried Rauws. Wilfried has taught Employment Law at the VUB for many years. “I think the lack of interaction during the lessons will have a negative impact on the student’s work.”
But according to many students, this new way of taking lessons is not a disadvantage, but an advantage. “I hardly ever go to the lectures physically,” Hannah (23) says. She studies Law at the VUB and is president of the student association the Vlaams Rechtsgenootschap (VRG).
“I see students in my environment more and more often reaching for online recordings. I think I speak for my entire association when I say we are in favour of this way of learning.”
Offering lesson recordings online allows students to follow education in a flexible way. Lessons can be reviewed at any time, eliminating the need for students to rely on a timetable. Bryan (22), Computer Science student, agrees with this.
“I am a fan of the lesson recordings, because they make it easier to follow my lessons from home. I live fairly far from campus, so I don’t have to commute for an hour every day.”
After two years of distance learning, students appear to have become accustomed to this form of teaching. It may therefore very well be that this blended way of teaching will become the new standard in higher education, post-corona.
‘Don’t abolish lesson recordings’
The Flemish Association of Students (VVS) is already arguing in favour of preserving online lesson recordings in higher education. They fear that, with the return to face-to-face education, these admissions will no longer be a possibility.
“Lesson recordings should be offered as much and wherever possible, and they should be unlimited in time. The pandemic has made it clear that there are students whose health does not allow them to be physically present in class at all times. Digital education can be a way for them to still attend classes,” the association tells Het Nieuwsblad.
Students at the VUB do not have to worry about this. The university also plans to keep lesson recordings available post-corona. “As a university, we expected that students would not flock to campus. But after two years of distance learning, we have been able to take steps towards a full-fledged form of blended learning,” interim rector Jan Danckaert tells BRUZZ .
However, there are pitfalls behind the flexibility of the online lesson. Viewing lesson recordings can be time-consuming and with the beautiful weather of the past few days, motivation is sometimes hard to find.
“I actually prefer to be on campus,” says industrial engineering student Ben (22). “The fact that everything is online is great, but on the other hand there is also the risk of laziness. When you’re at home, it’s sometimes difficult to find the motivation to watch a three-hour lecture.” Other students see added value in interactions with the teacher, or new students want to get to know the campus.
“We therefore insist that there are sufficient tutorials, where students can have social contacts and can contact the teacher on site with questions,” says Rector Danckaert.