Coronavirus Threatens End Of On-Campus Lecture

Most Australian universities won’t be offering on-campus lectures in 2021 with the threat of being forced to return to a lockdown situation a major concern.

The Australasian Council on Open, Distance and e-Learning (ACODE) recently published a white paper* that revealed many institutions have found new ways of providing information to students that would have been traditionally conveyed through a formal face-to-face lecture.

The paper by Griffith University Professor Michael Sankey was based on survey responses from 43 member universities and looked at if teaching approaches used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic would still be suitable in the future.

Only 14 (32 per cent) universities indicated they would be returning to on-campus lectures this year.  The rest of the universities indicated they either won’t have on-campus lectures in 2021 or they would be reduced.

When asked about what their longer-term plans were, post 2021, 18 institutions (42%) responded that on-campus lectures would probably be returning, but with a reduced model.

Six institutions indicated they would not be returning to lectures at all, with a further seven indicating they were not sure at this point.

According to Professor Sankey, the COVID-19 pandemic had provided institutions with both opportunities and threats in relation to the how they can support their students around core teaching activities, such as lectures.

“Many have taken this opportunity to reposition their approach to lecturing, in light of the fact that they may be forced to return to a lock-down situation in the future,” Professor Sankey said.

“Others have tried to hold firm to their traditional approach to lecturing, as they have seen this as an essential part of their brand.

“What is clear from the results of this survey is that many institutions have found new ways of providing information to their students, that would have been traditionally conveyed through a formal face-to-face lecture.

“Many of these institutions have also taken a stance that they will now not return to that mode of delivery in the future.

“Having said that, there is no presumption in this that the lecture, as we have known it, will cease to exist and nor should it, rather that instructions will now be far more judicious as to how many and how often they may choose to use this form of delivery.”

The University of Southern Queensland has sent a document to staff and students announcing on-campus tutorials, lab work and small-group seminars would continue this year, However, traditional lectures would not.

Another university commented that it had “moved on from the concept of ‘lecture’ a long time ago”.

*Sankey. M (2021). ‘Returning to lectures in 2021: An ACODE Whitepaper’. Australasian Council on Open Distance and eLearning (ACODE). Canberra. Australia. (28 January).

Available from: https://www.acode.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=4469

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