U of A students are ‘furious’ at the quality of the school’s online courses

The president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union said the students accept that they have to be online at the moment because of the Omicron variant, however, he said the students do not accept not the “incredibly poor quality” of online learning they currently receive.

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University of Alberta students are “furious” that the school is not meeting basic standards for online courses, the university’s student union has said.

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The president of the University of Alberta Students’ Union said that the students agree that they have to be online right now because of the Omicron variant, however, he said that the students do not accept the “incredibly poor quality” of online learning they currently receive.

“There’s no reason that after two years the university still isn’t able to do things like oversee the use of invasive online surveillance tools,” the student union president said. , Rowan Ley.

“Students generally feel like they didn’t get what they paid for, they got a much worse online education than it should have, and they’re upset and frustrated and asking the university to do something about it.”

Ley said the previous year’s quality of online learning was better and more consistent, while this year students are widely telling the student union it has been “terrible”. He added that students are paying 14% more in tuition fees this year compared to two years ago.

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In a survey focusing on student experiences since the start of the winter semester on Jan. 5, 42% of students reported a refusal to record lectures, 37% reported a negative experience with online proctoring, and 38% reported experiencing internet instabilities.

The data comes from a University of Alberta Students’ Union survey of 1,238 students with a 65% response rate.

Student union leaders are due to meet with U of A officials on Thursday to discuss developments in online learning.
Student union leaders are due to meet with U of A officials on Thursday to discuss developments in online learning. Photo by Shaughn Butts /Postmedia, file

“There are a lot of classes where lessons are not being saved for students who are stuck in a different time zone or have problems with their internet connection and that’s a serious problem because if they can’t access to a real-time course, then they’re unable to learn the material and that puts them at a huge disadvantage,” Ley said.

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Twenty-five percent of students said they had to take an in-person midterm exam even before campus reopened. Ley said this is a situation where those who don’t live in Edmonton have to come to town for just one exam.

“There’s also the fact that at this point I think a lot of students don’t think it’s safe to be in a class with hundreds of people taking an exam because Omicron is in the process of to fall, but it’s definitely not completely calmed down,” he said.

Ley said the university must crack down on its unauthorized use of online surveillance. He said the University of Alberta had promised last year to restrict the use of monitoring tools only to cases where there was no reasonable alternative and that it had to be approved by the deans. . The school did not enforce this requirement, Ley said.

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The U of A is also to announce a predictable return-to-campus plan for Feb. 28, Ley said.

“I think we’re at the point now where it’s fair for students to expect that and where possible the university needs to make sure the lectures are recorded and there’s accessibility for students in different time zones or with different levels of wi-fi quality or access to technology,” he said.

He pointed to the university’s budget cuts as the source of many of the problems.

Ley said student union leaders are scheduled to meet with U of A representatives on Thursday to discuss developments in online learning. He hopes the student union will know in a few days what changes are happening as a result of the meetings.

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