By Lily Morris, First Year, Religion and Theology
The internet is a wonderful place for those who wish to learn, and with many websites being dedicated to providing people with free educational courses (The Open University, Coursera, Google Digital Garage…) I’ve been left wondering if my degree’s £27,750 price tag is worth it.
Just 30 minutes into a 43 hour long, free course on the history of Christianity, I began to play spot-the-difference between it and my BA in Religion and Theology. With lectures having moved completely online, the number of differences were few.
Both relied heavily on video recordings, both covered very similar content, and both (to my surprise) provided feedback on assessments. Differences became even more scarce when I compared it to degrees where professors make their students watch lectures from years past.
As opposed to providing their students with new educational content through live Zoom meetings or recently made asynchronous lectures, some lecturers have opted to recycle old recordings instead. Had any of my own professors done this, I’d have been outraged.
After all, £1579 of our tuition fees are spent on teaching, so I don’t feel it's unreasonable to expect professors to fulfil their job descriptions. This includes providing us with content that is up to date with modern academia.
A lot can change in a year in the world of research - my theology lectures often reference theories and events from just a few months ago. It’s a professor’s job to keep up to date with the happenings of their subject and share these updates with their students. Posting old lecture recordings does the opposite, denying students of a proper education.
The pandemic has made University teaching all too similar to the free courses that can be found online
The fact that 79 percent of undergraduates struggle to make ends meet makes this dilemma all the more frustrating. With financial stress on their shoulders, students deserve to receive the education they are paying for.
Furthermore, every lecturer has access to Zoom, and hosting online lectures takes no more time out of a professor’s day than in-person lectures used to. There is no excuse for releasing dated content.
Not to mention, Zoom meetings enable students to ask questions and interact with each other. Professors only have so many contact hours, and sometimes students just don’t have time to write countless emails or attend numerous 15-minute sessions just to ask simple questions about one part of an old lecture recording. Live lectures kill two birds with one stone.
Overall, I feel that the pandemic has made University teaching all too similar to the free courses that can be found online. The one thing that has allowed it to be distinctly different is the personal touch of engaging with professors and students alike.
This aspect has been kept alive, to the best of its ability, through live online lectures. To replace them with old lecture recordings is to reduce one’s degree to something that can be attained through a Google search.
Universities should do one of two things to compensate those who have been educated through reused content: reduce their fees or start giving them what they paid for.
Featured Image: Epigram / Rosie Angel-Clark
Do you think it is wrong for lecturers to use lecture recordings from previous years? Let us know!