Online access to recorded lectures is an invaluable resource for university students for a host of different reasons, but at the University of Edinburgh, this unfortunately is not a resource available to all.
Despite Edinburgh University Students’ Association calling for all departments to record their lectures, some departments, such as the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, have refuted this call, claiming that making lectures available online (via Learn) would reduce lecture attendance and participation. These departments are depriving their students of a beneficial revision resource, and are putting students who have missed lectures for legitimate reasons at a disadvantage.
Lectures provide students with first-hand ideas from specialists in their field of study, as well as clarification on complex topics. The information delivered in these sessions is indispensable for students when it comes to coursework and examinations. The ideas discussed in lectures help students form arguments and answer questions, so being able to access such information time and time again is undoubtedly an advantage during stressful exam seasons.
People have different techniques for learning, and simply taking notes in a lecture theatre does not work for everyone. Online access to lectures would provide flexibility for students to tailor the information presented in lectures to their own style of learning.
Researchers at the University of Sydney have proven that the time of day at which a person’s concentration is at its peak differs depending on their body clock, so recording lectures would enable people to engage with their studies at a time best suited to them. Being able to review a nine o’clock lecture during the afternoon, for example, is advantageous for the many of us who suffer the disadvantage of not being morning people.
The ability itself to participate in lectures is unequal, as students living with disabilities and mental illnesses may find concentrating in, and attending lectures more difficult than others. Having online access to lectures would enable these students to view them from whatever environment is most comfortable for them. The University of Edinburgh’s disability policy states that it is committed to equal opportunities for students with disabilities, so for the sake of those who need it, lectures should be recorded by all departments and made readily available online. Students should not have to miss out on their education for measures far beyond their control.
Whilst there is credibility in the claim that recording lectures could potentially reduce lecture attendance, the advantages of making lectures accessible online far outweigh this drawback. With the cost of university being so high, students taking subjects where lectures are not currently being recorded have every right to be aggrieved. They are being deprived of a resource that can be truly advantageous for academic success.
One clear absurdity of this controversy is that many lecturers openly invite students to record their lectures using their own recording devices, but, even in rooms where recording facilities are installed, do not use these record their lectures. If the facilities are available, they should not go to waste.
The call made by Edinburgh University Students’ Association for all departments to record their lectures is a call that should most definitely be accepted. Where departments have refused this call, more should now be done to make them comply. Online access to recorded lectures has a whole host of different perks for students, and those whose lectures are not currently being recorded are truly missing out on something that could drastically improve their education.
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