[Column] Can things go back to normal?

Student Bas Rooijakkers is surprised that many students prefer online lectures. He advocates physical classes, which is better for focus.

Bas Rooijakkers: “Until a new Cabinet takes office, I’m holding my breath.” (Photo: Sam Rentmeester)

The following poll passed by one of my subjects: ‘Now that the Covid restrictions have largely been lifted, we may in principle hold lectures on campus again. Who wants this?’. You could tick whether you wanted this on campus ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’, or if you preferred online ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’. To my surprise, the poll resulted in 50% for offline lectures and 50% for online lectures. Most of the subjects that I am taking now are still largely online.

Students are apparently used to studying online, and some even prefer it. Personally I would prefer not to have to go to TU Delft every day, but if I had to choose between a lecture in real life or on Zoom, I would prefer old-fashioned offline lectures. I can imagine it’s more satisfying for teachers to give lectures to real students rather than to a few small black screens on mute.

Online lectures feel like YouTube videos rather than lectures at TU Delft

Some online lectures are useful though, for example if they are in a different city. But it’s usually just a hassle. It is far too easy to be distracted during online lectures. Even worse, is to be doing something completely different while the lecture is going on in the background. You can’t do this if you are in a lecture hall. Professors don’t appreciate it if you start looking at your phone. Online lectures feel like YouTube videos rather than lectures at TU Delft. As they are recorded, it is really tempting to watch them again later – one day before your exam.

By holding most lectures offline, you force students to concentrate on the subject material. I do understand that for some students online lectures are more practical. Some students live in other towns, are in quarantine, or have a functional impairment which makes it hard to physically attend lectures. Collegerama was designed for this. All the lectures in all the subjects have already been recorded. If you are unable to attend lectures physically, for whatever reason, you can always watch them there.

A while ago, before Covid, there were always complaints about the lack of study places during exam week. I can remember a film of the opening of the Library at 08:00 during one exam week. You see hundreds of students running inside as if it were Black Friday so that they could reserve the best study place. “I really can’t study at home!” everyone shouted then. It is still busy around exam week, but it is not as crazy as it was then.

In business, it is commonplace for people to be physically present at work for three days and work from home the other two days. While this seems to work well, I believe that it is less suitable for universities. After all, you’re following a full-time degree programme at TU Delft and not at an online university.

Bas Rooijakkers is a master’s student in Applied Physics. He was born in Brabant and spent part of his youth on Curaçao. He enjoys jogging and since the corona pandemic has also picked up cycling. He is also always in for a coffee or a craft beer.

Bas Rooijakkers / Columnist

Columnist Bas Rooijakkers

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