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The added value of college in the classroom

11 May 2022
Online education has risen in recent years. Thanks to the advent of new technologies, education during lockdown has proven to offer more possibilities. Do lectures in a classroom actually have an added value? Marga Janse, course coordinator/M&E internship coordinator at Athena Institute, on the importance of lectures in the classroom and the valuable moments in between.

What is the added value of following lectures on campus?
Visiting campus definitely has added value for students. Interacting with students live is so much nicer than on Zoom. It is more direct. It is easier to engage them and start group discussions. As far as I am concerned, that interactivity is crucial. I’m not only talking about online education, but also about learning and teaching in general: you cannot learn on your own, you have to learn together.

What is the added value for the lecturers?
That differs per lecturer. One lecturer said that, because there was less interaction online, the lecture was ‘cleaner’. The lectures were also shorter; from one and a half hours to just over an hour. But there was also a lecturer who said they did not want to teach online. That lecturer said: “I’m only prepared to give lectures on campus; you can record them if you need to.” The students were soon reporting that they loved coming to the campus.

As a lecturer, it’s also easier to reach the students in a real-life lecture. A good example is the Clinical Development and Clinical Trials course, which is taught by our guest lecturer Erik Klaver. He is so incredibly enthusiastic, but the subject matter itself is awfully dull, and if you’re not careful it can become a very boring lecture. In the evaluation, the students told us: “It was terribly boring, but the way it was presented actually made us curious to see how he would do it next time.”

Does teaching on campus also offer more opportunities outside regular class hours?
Definitely. I am the coordinator of the Business Management course. That subject also covers the first steps of setting up a business. Students who physically attend the lectures can ask the guest lecturers questions beforehand or during the break; questions that would otherwise not be addressed. These are valuable interactions.

If you show that you are open to this dialogue as a lecturer, it makes it easier for the students to approach you. Sharing ideas, so that different perspectives can be considered, is an important part of academic education. The lecture room is the ideal place to do this.