Bristol students given pre-recorded lectures by dead professor

They only found out half way through the term

Students at the University of Bristol were given pre-recorded lectures from an academic who had passed away throughout their term of teaching, it has been revealed.

First year mathematics undergraduates at the uni were made to watch a series of pre-recorded lectures by Dr Lynne Walling, who had died a few months earlier of terminal cancer.

The students were being taught by Dr Walling during the autumn term. However the teaching of her material carried on for many months – despite passing away last May.

The students however, were not told of their lecturer’s passing – even though they were still being given the teaching materials. They were apparently extremely “distressed” once they found out.

One student said: “They didn’t really tell us for a while. Some people started to clock on and word spread, then they sent an email about half way through the term,” the student explained. “It feels quite disrespectful to be using her content in this way.”

Although Covid restrictions have been eased, many universities have continued to conduct a large majority of teaching online. One Bristol student told the Telegraph: “The lectures we are having this term and last term were pre-recorded last academic year,” he said. “This year they are recycling them again. It is a bit of a joke because Covid restrictions have stopped.”

The University College Union (UCU), which represents academics, warned that universities must be “incredibly careful” about how they use pre-recorded lecturers.

Nick Varney, the union’s official for the South West, said: “It will have been upsetting for students to belatedly realise the person teaching them had already passed away.

“This unfortunate situation shows why universities need to be incredibly careful about how recorded lectures are used.”

A Bristol University spokesperson said it is “regrettable” that some students were not “initially aware” that Dr Walling had passed before her online lectures were used in the autumn term.

They said: “Dr Lynne Walling was an outstanding academic and teacher who was much loved by her students. This unique course was created by her and the materials she produced were used as part of the overall teaching provision which is led by an experienced academic lecturer.

“She very much wanted these to continue to be used and we are pleased to be able to honour her legacy in doing so.

“We are delivering as much in-person learning as we safely can, including lectures, seminars, and laboratories on campus. We have retained some of the more effective elements of blended learning that have been well received by students.”

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