Recorded lectures not returning in winter or spring semesters
By David Gomez Jr.
Published Monday, Nov. 9, 2020
Students voice growing concerns as the University takes away recorded lectures for the upcoming winter and spring semesters.
The announcement was made Monday, Oct. 19, by Texas A&M International University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Thomas R. Mitchell, via e-mail to all students and faculty.
“We do not do things arbitrarily, and we understand that some of our decisions will not be universally popular,” emailed Mitchell to The Bridge. “We believe with great conviction, however, that this change is in the best interest of the education of our students.”
The decision did not sit well with many students who then expressed their concern on social media, including the TAMIU Student Network on Facebook.
One student who did not shy away, senior communication major Allan Rodriguez directly messaged The Bridge.
“We have the choice to go back to school and sit in a classroom, but that is still unsafe and careless,” Rodriguez emailed. “It would not feel safe until there is a cure and everyone is vaccinated.”
Despite student concerns, the administration is confident it is meeting their needs.
“We sanitize classrooms and other rooms every day (some spaces multiple times a day),” Mitchell told The Bridge in an email, “observe social distance in our classroom configurations and in all in-person interactions, provide sanitizing wipes or lotion for every room, and provide free testing (we are currently below a 2% positive rate while the city currently has around a 20% positive rate).”
TAMIU classrooms and halls are sanitized thoroughly and frequently by cleaning staff.
“We are absolutely convinced that—given our precautions and sparse class attendance—coming to campus for class is not only safe but also much more conducive to receiving a quality education,” Mitchell emailed.
Canceling recorded lectures would mean more face-to-face interaction, whether online or in person, to further participate within the classroom or online course.
“The deans and vice presidents and I unanimously decided that in the interest of maintaining the quality of education we needed to require that students attend class—in person or virtually—rather than viewing recordings of their classes,” Mitchell emailed.
This adds fuel to a fire started in September that TAMIU was not complying with the Laredo Health Authority.
“The enemy of effective learning is passivity—the instructor-centered classroom with an instructor talking 99% of the time and students passively listening and taking notes (or daydreaming),” Mitchell emailed. “The problem with even live-synchronous viewing of classes, as opposed to in-person attendance, is that engagement is difficult.”
Though many TAMIU students work while attending school, they will have to prepare to attend classes on campus or online in real time at the regularly scheduled class times.
“Many of our students work, of course, and we wanted them to begin planning their semesters around their work and family commitments,” Mitchell emailed.
While students might be able to plan ahead, this is not always the case, Rodriguez emailed.
“We do not know what other students are currently facing in these hard times at their own homes,” Rodriguez emailed. “Sometimes the recorded lectures can help these students look back at their classes and review in their own time.”
Currently, no further information is available as to whether the decision might be reversed; however, due to the unanimous administrative consensus, this is unlikely.
“It is not the student’s fault that they have to take mandatory online classes, so taking the recorded lectures away [would be] absurd,” Rodriguez emailed.