About the selection
Q. With courses likely to be online for the whole semester how does this impact on course selection? Why can’t more students join if classes are going to be done on apps like Zoom?
A. The main aim of course selection at GIS remains unchanged: to select appropriate numbers of motivated students to allow instructors to teach effectively and students to study in a classroom environment conducive to our interactive lesson style. In ‘real’ classrooms this is restricted by how many students can fit in the room, so some students have been questioning why we need selection as teaching is done using online methods. Even in apps like Zoom, it is important that the number of students is not too large, as it is challenging for instructors to constantly monitor more than one screen full of students, respond to students’ live messages on Chat as well as deliver the lecture. Equally, we must take the needs of students into consideration: they are also adapting to online learning, and getting used to studying in virtual spaces. Studies from other universities using online courses indicate that class size plays an important role in influencing how comfortable students feel about participation, with students less willing to interact in larger classes. This correlates with early feedback from our instructors.
We also want to address the concerns of some students who feel that instructors are being directed to favour screening applications from senior students, and that instructors are limiting student numbers to avoid a heavy workload. Neither of these is correct. Our instructors are advised to show no bias towards any groups of students when screening applicants, and to select those who appear most motivated. Also, many of our instructors have been accepting more students than they would normally, as we wish to be as supportive of students as we can. Despite the extra marking and course management this will require they are trying their best to balance students’ desires to join particular courses while providing an interactive learning experience.