Online study killing university life Down Under

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Sydney, Feb 27 (ANI): A survey of academics in Australia has found that the push towards web-based learning at universities has halved student attendance rates in some courses and dramatically increased working hours for lecturers.

Thousands of students will crowd into campuses across the country tomorrow for the first day of the university semester, but lecturers predict that within a few weeks many will stop attending, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Instead these students will stay at home and skim online notes or flick through podcasts and video recordings of classes.

The Sun-Herald, which conducted the study, analyzes the views of 12 academics from NSW universities.

The respondents suggested that in many courses up to half of students regularly skipped class - sometimes because of part-time work commitments, but often because the prevalence of online learning material gave them an excuse to make less effort.

One senior lecturer in medicine at a Sydney university, said that in the past six months "it was getting to the point where on Fridays you'd look out and see just a handful of students in the lecture theatre. We had to threaten them to make them come. Online learning is very important but it's only an adjunct to lectures."

Preparing online material now consumed more of lecturers' time than they spent in class, the National Tertiary Education Union said.

Jane Mears, an associate professor of social science at the University of Western Sydney, said it took a full day to modify a lecture for use online and two hours to adapt a PowerPoint presentation.

More vexing for some academics was the steady stream of emails from students who expected replies at all hours of the day. (ANI)

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