Online teaching at third level


Sir, – While it is widely known that essentially all third-level teaching will be online for the coming academic year, what is not being discussed is how that online teaching will take place, and the quality of that delivery.

It is clear to all who work with the third-level sector that there will be no moderation of how individual lecturers deliver online content, or the quality of that delivery. And it is already clear that there will be no coherent modes of delivery to students, even to students on a given course basis.

Already, it is emerging that students on many courses need not even attend such online lectures “live”. And this is at the whim of individual lecturer. Instead, in many instances, recorded content will be placed online that students can engage whenever they like. In many such cases, however, there will be no checking that students actually engage with such online content! In short, in many cases, students will effectively not be expected to adhere to a timetable.

Such is the non-standardised, unmonitored and ad hoc nature of third-level “online delivery” that this year’s students are facing into.

While many claim that online delivery offers flexibility; surely it is the case that the success of third-level teaching and learning has been rooted in the timetabled, real-time and mentored way that colleges run on campus. Any worthwhile third-level degrees make huge academic demands on even the best student; so surely the concern for current third-level students has to be that the overwhelmingly successful modes of historical on-campus course delivery are being tossed aside, with no equivalent standards, structure or checks put in place.

Such lack of stewardship of imminent third-level course delivery should be of deep concern to the Department of Higher Education, college managers, lecturers, parents of students attending college, and most especially to the students themselves. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 16.