Online teaching at third level

 

Sir, – Kevin Nolan’s letter (September 14th) makes a number of assumptions regarding the delivery of online teaching that are not entirely fair as they appear to apply second-level standards to the third level.

He bemoans the fact that students won’t be required to attend live online classes. However, this equally applies to face-to-face teaching. Lecturers do not have (and never had) ways of ensuring that students appear in class.

This is perhaps unfortunate yet is not at all specific to online delivery.

On the other hand, not insisting on regular live presence is inevitable in the current circumstances since other obligations or connectivity issues may prevent some students from attending.

Mr Nolan is also unhappy that there won’t be a “quality control” of the teaching. Yet this is not specific to online delivery – the use of a wide range of teaching methods and modes of delivery is a normal occurrence in face-to-face settings as well, and top-down monitoring of individual classes or modules has never been undertaken at third level.

Of course, there are new challenges, and I, for example, have attended a number of workshops over the summer to better acquaint myself with the relevant technology while also signing up for a diploma in teaching and learning to enhance my abilities.

Some lecturers will cope better than others with the situation, but we are all making a huge effort to ensure that our teaching will be of a high quality. The technology also provides new opportunities, even though the change has been forced upon us by the pandemic.

I will concentrate the lecture part of my classes (that is the one-way transmission of factual knowledge) in the uploaded, asynchronous recordings while providing the seminar part (discussion and group work, engaging the students in two-way communication) in the live sessions.

I also found in April that I was able to cover content asynchronously in more detail than would have been possible within the time constraints of the classes.

It’s not all doom and gloom. – Yours, etc,

Dr WOLFGANG MARX

UCD School of Music,

Belfield,

Dublin 4.