Before the start of the new semester, Dankook University (DKU) announced the implementation of online learning lectures for a set period of time to ensure the protection of Dankookians (Students of Dankook University) from the lethal corona virus. Student opinions of the school's response varied greatly. On the one hand, some seek tuition refunds or are calling for full disclosure of the use of the funds, while others want the university to announce reasonable measures for students who have to use college facilities, such as dorms, labs and libraries. On the other hand, some students are reacting positively by agreeing with the decision to conduct cyber lectures, saying it was an inevitable step to ensure the safety of students. One thing is clear, as the corona virus remains a threat to the population, the future of the semester continues to be uncertain.
|▲ Dankookians are complaining about online lectures for various reasons. (Photo from Dankook University)|
On February 4, 2020, DKU postponed the opening date of classes for the first time. The increased spread of corona virus infections meant face-to-face lectures had to be substituted with cyber lectures in order to ensure the safety of Dankookians. On April 20, 2020, DKU announced a further postponement of most offline classes until May 10. In addition, the opening of school facilities such as libraries and dormitories was also postponed. More specifically, on April 7, DKU announced the opening date of the dormitory, would be divided into two rounds. If DKU approved your dorm application during the designated application period in April, you were told you could move into as long as you submit an immigration certificate and the results of the pulmonary tuberculosis test. With the implementation of cyber lectures, professors were forced to quickly devise a variety of online teaching methods. In some cases, they recorded lectures and uploaded them to the e-learning campus or other external webhosting sites such as Google Classroom, while others used external video media, instead of direct personal recordings. On April 2, 2020, DKU also announced changes to the grade curve. The new curve would see 40% of students in a class qualify for A’s, and the remaining 60% earn Bs, Cs, Ds and Fs. They also announced that some practical subjects that require face-to-face lectures, could go ahead on an experimental basis from April 13.
To find out more about what students think about all the changes, the Dankook Herald (DKH) surveyed a group of Dankookians. We asked 5 questions and interviewed some of them in-depth. According to the survey, the two main complaints were about DKU’s announcements of the extension of cyber lectures on an incremental basis and the call for tuition fee refunds. “The phased approach to online class extensions means I’m having trouble making plans,” said Student Nam, who needs to rent a room. Not only her, but most students said the piecemeal approach is causing them problems too. For example, student A argued that DKU must decide whether all lectures will remain online for the remainder of the semester. She said, “DKU keeps extending their online lectures to leave room for the possibility of offline lectures in the future. I’m not sure when the offline lectures will start, so I cannot even get a part-time job near my house.” Student B responded, “While I have some work to do in DKU, my home is far from school, so I need to live near the University. But DKU has not approved my application to enter the dormitory. Renting a room near DKU is so expensive and I have trouble doing some work at school.” Some students argued that DKU should implement full online lectures for this semester for health reasons. “The Corona virus isn’t completely cured, there is no treatment or vaccine. Think about Singapore. A lot of infected people surfaced after school started.” Furthermore, there is a growing voice that DKU must refund part of the tuition fee. “My professor just provides some videos and assignments to check attendance. The video was recorded by other University professors. I don’t understand why I have to pay for this video.” said student Choi. Another student Sim said, “Because every school event is canceled, the budget will be enough. It is weird that the school still collects that extra money, and there is no guarantee that the student who paid for this semester will attend next semester.” Students commonly questioned what their tuition was covering. Sim answered “I comprehend the situation of DKU. They may not have been well prepared for this situation since the corona virus outbreak was an unexpected incident. However, there is already an online lecture system at DKU. I do not think they need to use the entire tuition fee to cover the costs of extending their server. So, where is my tuition going?”
To address their concerns, the DKH interviewed a representative from the New Media Operations Team (NMO), who is entrusted with the answers from the Student Affairs Team (SA). When told about students’ complaints, they answered, “We already understand the students’ complaints.” Despite knowing the problems, they explained why they cannot resolve all of them. “This is an unprecedented event for us, since the corona virus spread so suddenly, and we had to come up with creative countermeasures from the beginning.” When the DKH asked them why they announced the postponement in increments, they responded, “A lot of students complain about the notices. There are a lot of thing to consider before we return to offline lectures, and we are still discussing this problem. That’s why we announce them in segments.” They also answered questions students had about online lectures. “We are trying to improve our online lectures. In the first week, most professors were unfamiliar with the online lecture system. They didn’t know how to record videos and upload them. So, the lecture quality problem may have come from this lack of experience. DKU conducted a survey about the online lectures in order to identify and address problems raised by students.” They also mentioned the difficulty of planning for the re-introduction of offline lectures, saying that DKU is planning to start offline lectures for classes that need to conduct experiments, create design, and take part in practice shortly. With regards to the dormitory problem, they answered, “We recognized the problems with the dormitory and the DKU has approved students taking offline classes to live in the dormitory.” Once approved, Dankookians were able to enter the dormitory as of April 18. However, despite their efforts, there are still difficulties. “However, the more people share their opinions in our surveys, the faster we can take action to improve lecture quality.” We finished our interview asking about tuition. “This is a sensitive issue. Nothing has been decided for now. However, one thing is sure, we always use the budget for students. In this case, a lot of money is being spent to improve the quality of online lectures and to protect students from the virus. If any tuition policies change, we will notify students as soon as possible.”
It is clear there are strong disagreements between the school and the students. Considering that the primary duty of University is to ensure the students’ right to learn, DKU should try their best to solve the problems the students raised. To do this, both schools and students need to reach a proper agreement, as soon as possible, on ways to move towards a safe and effective learning environment for all.
|▲ Due to the aftermath of the spread of Corona 19, Dankook University first conducted cyber tele-lecture (Photo from Dankook University)|
임재도, 서채원 firstname.lastname@example.org