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EDITORIAL: Tech would lighten students burden

Streaming technology allows for student flexibility

For better or worse, college tends to be a turbulent stage in most lives.

It is a time marked by erratic schedules, strange circumstances and sudden developments. No day can be anticipated in full, and similarly, no student can be anticipated to embody normalcy.

This is simply because there is no normalcy in college. The Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology reported that 74% of undergraduate students have at least one non-traditional characteristic. For instance, 66% of students will end up transferring at least once, 28% have a dependent and 43% attend part-time.

Stating that 74% of students have non-traditional characteristics is really only a convoluted way of stating that there is no such thing as a traditional college student. As great as an abundance of personality and circumstance is for a diverse university experience, it does raise some concerns.

Clearly there is no singular college student, and thus, no prototype for administrators to base their policies on. For example, at Rutgers, we have a healthy mix of commuters and on-campus students. When a moderate snowstorm hits, it is safe to assume the administrators have serious difficulty making their decisions, as some students would have to drive an hour to class, and others walk a couple minutes. 

That was a simple example, and these types of considerations only get more complex. Possible issues such as students' home lives, financial health, mental health, physical health and other circumstances all contribute to the abstraction that is a college student body.

In that regard, any measure that diversifies the mechanisms a college employs in educating their students is highly beneficial. An erratic student body demands erratic methods, and schools must think of all sensible tactics to assure that every corner of a vast collection of students is reached. 

Adopting technology as it advances is key to all of this. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt used radio to reach swaths of Americans during the Great Depression with his famous fireside chats, and former President John F. Kennedy used the emerging technology of television as a way to expand his campaign. Those two trailblazers showed us all how mass technology can be used to communicate with the public.

Streaming technology is advancing rapidly, being used on sites like YouTube, among many others. Simplified, streaming is basically watching a live broadcast, with the entirety being saved and viewable once filming concludes. It is incredibly cheap and easy to do, needing nothing more than a video camera and some basic computer technology, and it would be advisable for the University to adopt it. 

Many professors already post slideshows online, a watered-down version of what a streaming solution intends. While that is certainly a help for students who could not attend class, it leaves a lot to be asked for. Professors are not present to expand on what the slide communicates, and often answers to certain example questions will be left off. It is a help, but ultimately an imperfect solution.

The ability to watch a lecture would greatly help commuters, which make up 56% of the Rutgers student body. On wintery days characterized by dangerous wind chills and slick, snowy roads, the option to simply open up your laptop and watch a lecture in the comfort of your home would be welcomed. 

As established, the college student lives in left-field, with expectations being upended at every turn. When one of these variables forbids a student from physically attending class, they would be able to catch up with ease.

Those who add classes later in the semester would also benefit. It is not impossible by any measure to find yourself miserably behind in a class even if you only missed the first couple of lectures. 

Some may fear this would encourage students to skip class excessively, a prevalent phenomenon already. First, students should possess the agency to handle their education as they please (especially considering they are the ones footing the bill). As stated, a college’s student body is a chaotic mixture, and there are certainly students who optimize their learning without attending class at a high rate. 

Second, even if a professor did have Puritan attendance values, they would still be able to implement an attendance policy, which would encourage students to go to class. That established, professors would also likely loosen their policies with the additional resources students would have at hand.

And, third, if students stop attending once video lectures are available, would that not be an indictment of the current system? Would that not be a sign that the new option is successful?

This solution would not work for all classes, but for those that it would, it must be applied. There are little risks and high rewards, and it would establish Rutgers as a school on the cutting-edge of both student care and technological adoption. 

Through department heads and the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA), our ideas can be voiced, and with enough support and planning, fully realized. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority   of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff. 

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