Some Professors Opt for Pre-Recorded Classes Amid Remote Instruction

To aid students in different time zones, many professors have decided to switch some or all of their classes to asynchronous ones in which students participate through discussion forums or by watching pre-recorded lectures.

NYU has utilized Zoom as a substitute for in-person lectures as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Professors at the university have begun recording their lectures and posting them online for students who cannot attend classes at certain times. (Staff Photo by Jake Capriotti)

Since the transition to online classes, several professors have started recording video lectures and posting them online for students to watch, as an alternative to real-time Zoom lectures. 

Termed “asynchronous” or “deconstructive” learning, this approach has been used by professors attempting to accommodate students who now live in different time zones. While some professors have chosen this option for a portion of their classes, others have completely shifted to this mode.

Some students, however, have questioned whether their classes translate well to this method of instruction.

Liberal Studies sophomore Natasha Trinh said that many of her LS courses thrive off of class discussion and that an asynchronous function hindered her understanding of the material.

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“Most of my Cultural Foundations class is discussion-based,” Trinh said. “Liberal Studies classes are very driven by discussion. With this class especially, the material is incredibly dry, and what makes it more accessible for me is actually talking about it.”

Trinh’s professor announced the move to pre-recorded lectures in an email on Saturday, March 21, telling students he would continue to hold one real-time Zoom session a week, with completely optional attendance.

“19 of the 23 kids in my class still showed up for the first optional lecture,” Trinh said. “About half the class are international students.” 

Eight days after the Saturday, March 21 email, Trinh’s professor fully reinstated real-time Zoom lectures, citing critical feedback from students. 

LS professor Brendan Hogan finds gauging what students have learned in live Zoom lectures challenging, but fulfilling nonetheless.

“Different pedagogical approaches suit different pedagogical personalities,” Hogan told WSN. It’s up to the professor to decide what works best for them. “That said, recovering what you can from the live classroom experience has been really rewarding.”

For many students, including those who live abroad or on the west coast, asynchronous classes are necessary to avoid inconvenient class times. Some professors, like Trinh’s, have opted to continue to hold live Zoom sessions and record those for students unable to log on during the allotted time. While this solution accommodates both students who benefit from live sessions and those living away from New York, other professors have decided to halt live Zoom sessions all together.

CAS sophomore Harrison Tsui hasn’t had a face-to-face interaction with his Social and Cultural Analysis professor since the class switched to deconstructive learning on Monday, March 23. 

“He specifically said at the end of the email ‘I will not be holding zoom sessions at the class meeting time,’” Tsui said. “It takes away the incentive to work hard in this class because first we’re not getting face-to-face time with the professor, but also I feel like I’m not being held accountable for any work I do.” 

Since the email, teaching assistants in Tsui’s class have held real-time Zoom meetings to discuss readings, but Tsui’s professor hasn’t attended any of these meetings.

“This should be the time when you step up to the plate and make the best of the situation,” Tsui said. “It just leaves me wondering what he’s doing with his spare time that this doesn’t merit his attention.”

Hogan said LS professors have received multiple online learning resources from the LS administration, including literature on deconstructive learning approaches. Hogan emphasized that these resources were offered as assistance in the wake of COVID-19 and were not mandatory materials. 

Email Sam Gray at [email protected]

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