Bombay University and College Teachers' Union (BUCTU) have opposed the guidelines released by the University of Mumbai (MU) for the conduct of online lectures. Teachers of some degree colleges have written emails to MU stating that many students do not have access to the internet, WiFi connection or electricity to access or download online lectures.
On August 24, MU released a circular stating guidelines for the smooth conduct of online lectures considering the lockdown situation in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. As per the guidelines, teachers should record lectures, upload videos on YouTube or Facebook, send notes via email or WhatsApp. Teachers should form small groups of five to ten students to communicate and discuss lessons. Also, teachers can provide counselling to students via phone calls.
Members of BUCTU have sent emails to MU stating, "The circular shows that the university is completed disconnected with ground reality. It is a cruel joke on different problems of students." Madhu Paranjape, general secretary of BUCTU, said, "There are many students who do not have access to the internet or even electricity because they have returned to their remote villages due to the lockdown. If students cannot attend online lectures due to lack of internet connection then how are they supposed to download videos or notes?"
In addition, the MU has directed teachers to conduct three to five lectures per day with breaks of 10 to 15 minutes. Nitesh Pandey, a teacher said, "We got to find solutions so that lectures reach those who do not have access. Also, we can start with two to three lectures per day because students face audio-video and other technical issues after a point if we conduct four or five consecutive lectures."
Teachers have also been instructed to prepare special reading material, self-assessment tests, quizzes, online doubt solving discussion forums and practice lessons. Also, teachers can use various applications such as Microsoft team, Google classroom, Google Meet, Zoom and Webex.
Paranjape added, "These guidelines should have been laid out after thorough discussions with student and teacher representatives." A senior official of MU said, "Teachers have been instructed to record lectures or upload content so that students who are unable to attend live online sessions due to lack of equipment or internet connection can access the content later."