Down with online education!

The lecture halls remain empty after COVID-19. How come that after two lamentable years of online education, no students come to the university? Both the university and the student owe that to themselves.

Written by: Ebbe Tim Ottens, former Tilburg University campus poet

I whatsapped about the student elections with Tijs van der Zanden, the chair of student party Front, he whatsapped me to ask for my vote. One of the big points of his party, and Sam’s, is digitalization, the idea that it should be made easier for students to take more hybrid and online courses. When I told him that my lectures were emptying and consequently declined in quality, while discussing, one learns, he told me that these were simply developments as a result of the coronavirus. We had to take the best practices of online education and combine them with physical education because there was no simple solution for half-full lecture halls.

Respectfully, I disagree.

Throughout the years, the university has been reduced from an institution where one learns something to an institution where one completes courses. We have ended up in a society where statistics are supreme, everything must be measurable so that we can compare. COVID-19 has intensely reinforced this, I can assure everyone that nothing beats the soul, joy, and love out of learning like online education. I genuinely have a passion for what I am studying, I enjoy going to lectures, and I sit in the pub at night with friends talking about the ideas I am taking away and developing. During two years of education, I did none of this, for me every course was reduced to 2 exams, 6 credits.

Online education fits in perfectly with this, after all, it is much more efficient to watch a few knowledge clips half a week before the exam and then pass your test. Whether or not you learn something from it is not relevant at all, you get your grades. I did not vote for a student party because they all believe that it should be made as easy as possible for students to get a diploma.

Two years of COVID-19 has not made the student lazy, but deadly efficient.

Here is a radical proposal, let us educate people by teaching them content instead of teaching them to pass courses as quickly as possible. Digitalization is yet another step further away from what a university is supposed to be. I have a friend who studies mathematics who laughs at me when I tell him how efficiently we alpha and gamma students manage to pass our exams. If you really want to learn something, you cannot take shortcuts. Please, let us put online education behind us as soon as possible, so we can get back to talking about what we learn instead of how we learn.

Translated by Language Center, Riet Bettonviel

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