Several UCD Students have this week told the College Tribune that they feel under pressure, overwhelmed and uncertain as many lecturers regularly disobey time slots for online lectures and classes by extending the length of course material, with many solely posting pre-recorded lectures without any ‘live’ interaction or engagement at all. 

Students across various schools and stages shared their experience of lecturers exceeding the usual 50 minute or 1 hour and 50 minute time slots for their synchronous or ‘live’ virtual classes, something that in-person teaching would prevent them from doing as students would have to leave to go to different classes. 

One first year Economic and Politics student told the College Tribune that “a few times now I’ve had a tutorial posted on Friday evening, over an hour long, when it’s meant to be 50 minutes and has to be covered by Monday morning for an exam!” 

He shared the view that pre-recording lecture material and not engaging with students through live online lectures was ‘lazy’ – “I think [pre- recording] is unfair on students – the lecture element of [one module] is an audio recording in lecture halls from 2018 … it’s fairly shocking especially when we’re paying the same fees and lecturers are getting the same payments.”

According to some students certain lecturers who chose to deliver their modules either partially or exclusively in an asynchronous or ‘pre-recorded’ format would frequently delay in uploading the material to Brightspace, often posting hours or days after the allocated time slot for the lecture, late in the evenings, at weekends and even during reading week. Students said once the material was uploaded, it could be minutes to hours longer than the scheduled time slot. 

One second year international student told The College Tribune of her struggles with remote learning from abroad. “This additional material is a psychological burden for me, I feel like I’m drowned under these notes. Some lecturers give us 2 hour 30 minute podcasts or videos!”

Many students have expressed concern that some lecturers would expect students to engage with recordings as well as live classes each week, sometimes doubling the scheduled class time and material length on top of readings, as one second year Commerce International student told us. Other lecturers would purposefully or accidentally forget to record live lectures to the exclusion of numerous students who experience technical issues and those who may have difficulty attending every live lecture due to personal obligations, interruptions or hardship during lockdown. 

Thibault Loughrey, a second year BCL Maîtrise student, told the College Tribune that “some lecturers have been pretty good and consistent with the norm. Others, however, have not only been putting up materials and recordings at scattered times throughout the week, but [for one module] when added together amounts to over 2 hours 40 minutes of lecture material for one week. This included posting lecture material during reading week.” He also said that many of his Christmas exams would have to be completed in a 2-4 hour window which he described as “especially egregious … [as it] makes it nearly impossible to have a fair chance to sit the exams” 

One third year Chemistry student told the College Tribune of his difficulty communicating with his lecturers. He said: “I had a lecturer who didn’t communicate with us for six weeks and only started doing stuff after someone said it to another lecturer”. Said lecturer offered “technical issues” as an explanation.  

The College Tribune reached out to the UCD Education Officer, Hannah Bryson, for comment but has yet to receive a response at time of publication. 

Iseult O’Callaghan – Reporter