Students of at least two colleges have complained that the recording facility of classroom lectures on the digital platform they use has been stopped. Many who have poor connectivity at home relied on the facility over the past two years to catch up on missed classes.
The institutions said what was a free service earlier had been made a paid facility by the service provider following a rebranding and they would have to take a decision on whether to switch to it.
With the onset of the pandemic that forced the institutes to stop in-person classes from March 2020 and opt for online classes as a precaution against Covid, campuses like Jadavpur University and IIEST Shibpur began using the online platform G Suite — a service provided by Google — that among other features allowed recording a video meeting of classroom lecture for free.
The free promotional period ended on January 9, said an official of JU.
According to him, educational institutions are required to purchase the service if they want to continue using the facility.
JU vice-chancellor Suranjan Das said that the service provider informed him on Friday that the university has to pay Rs 125 as monthly subscription against each user for the continuance of service. He has asked the university’s finance officer, Gourkrishna Pattanayak, to find out how much JU has to pay.
IIEST Shibpur has begun discussions with the company to negotiate the prices, said an official of the institute.
The IIEST student’s senate that represents all the students on the campus has written to the institute’s director stating that the recording service has stopped from Thursday, leaving the students who face “trouble in Internet connectivity/electricity” in the lurch.
Mithun Kumar, a fourth-year BTech student of computer science and technology at IIEST, who stays in rural Kahelgaon in Bihar’s Bhagalpur district — over 400km from Calcutta — said with the recording facility being withdrawn, he is unable to attend classes.
“Frequent power outages and unstable connectivity at home come in the way of attending online classes in real-time. So, we have to depend on recorded lectures. Earlier, teachers who hosted the online classes had the G Suite licence. As the digital platform allowed recording, the concerned teacher would share the link of the recorded lecture with us,” he told Metro on Saturday.
IIEST had planned to start offline classes from January, but had to shelve the plan following the fresh wave of cases. Students are continuing to attend online classes from home.
Harshvardhan Singh, the general secretary of the IIEST students’ senate, said at least 25 per cent of the students were struggling to attend classes because of the recording facility getting discontinued.
A JU student who stays in South 24-Parganas said frequent power cuts and unstable connectivity force him to depend on the recording facility.
“The offline classes that started from November 16 were suspended from January 3 because of rising cases. Without the recording facility we are facing trouble,” he said.
JU VC Das said the cost that the university has to incur for the paid service concerns them as the state universities are not charging anything during admission and have been waiving fees of the existing students over the past two years because of pandemic-induced financial constraints.
“Around 700 teachers hold the G Suite licence. Now we have to pay Rs 125 for each licence every month. I will write to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, requesting him to continue with the free service for the sake of students,” said Das.