EDITORIAL: Classroom tech may transform Rutgers
Synchronous lecture halls could be worth their expense
A significant burden to the students of Rutgers—New Brunswick is the transportation system. While students become increasingly frustrated with the buses, the University is seemingly frantically looking for ways to make them run more smoothly and efficiently. New bus lanes and bike lanes were implemented on College Avenue in the summer, but they are simply not enough to solve the problem. One of the main ideas behind this initiative with synchronous lecture halls is that by offering classes of this sort, the University will be able to cut out a good portion of student travel and hopefully alleviate traffic. So far the University has taken 10 large lecture courses and made them into synchronous lecture hall courses with the hope of reducing the number of students who need to take the bus. So for example — in a class of 300, rather than possibly more than 150 students traveling on the buses there may now only be 50 traveling for that class. This is an important goal because, in reality, the whole point of attending Rutgers is to go to class and learn. Without students actually being able to get to class efficiently, this is impossible. With that said, it is good to see the University coming up with innovative ways to solve the bus crisis.
Also in the vein of the student transportation issue at Rutgers is the amount of time that is wasted on the buses. Thirty minutes can make a big difference in a student's life, and time is too valuable to throw away being cramped in an overcrowded bus. Reducing the amount of time students spend on buses will allow them to allocate more of their time toward things that are important. Though in the future this initiative may work to help the transportation issue at Rutgers, we are not too sure about its ability to improve academia yet. While professors are able to see students and answer their questions, there is still a barrier between them. This is no different than, say, a hybrid or online course, but some students work better when they learn in person. That being said, a professor can alternate classrooms so that both sections get a chance to learn from them in person.
Rutgers spent $3 million to upgrade the two classrooms, NJ Advance Media, and that does not include the necessity to hire extra TA’s to ensure the remote classroom has no issues. With all of Rutgers’ departments and organizations that could use allocations, we hope that the administration has thought long and hard about investing such a hefty sum of money into this experiment. With that said, good foresight in terms of technology could solidify Rutgers as an elite school in the future.
All things considered, we trust the University to do what is best for the school. The 2030 Master Plan is meant to revolutionize Rutgers, and if the plan succeeds then so do we, the students. As students, we also must have patience, which is what change often requires. The University is working diligently to improve the lives of its students, starting with how we get to class. Though $3 million is a huge amount of money, synchronous lecture halls do have the potential to change the way we learn for the better. Students at Rutgers—Newark or Camden, or even students at other Big Ten schools may one day be able to share information and class material by way of this initiative.
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