Coronavirus: Nearly 20,000 Otago University students tuning in to virtual classes amid lockdown

Students across the country are embracing the idea of online learning as lecturers become home video producers.

Otago University is one of the country's larger campuses and is currently empty, but most of its 20,000 students are tuning in to virtual classes.

It's a new world for law lecturer Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere. His classes on the power of government have taken on a new meaning with the nationwide lockdown.

Twelve-hundred Otago University staff are now recording their lectures at home - uploading them for students to view when it suits.

"It's a little less interesting than a Netflix library I expect from the students' perspective, but yes it's recorded lectures," Rodriguez-Ferrere said.

Half of Otago's 20,000 students left Dunedin before the lockdown. Others chose to stay; either in student halls or flats and are now joining their classmates in virtual lectures.

"On the most part it's pretty good," student Charley Green said. "[It's] easy to get into."

"I find the best way is to actually just to get up, start your day. Go to a different room, go to a tutorial room where you can properly watch the lecture," said another student, Olivia McLennan. "It helps you concentrate so much more."

More than 1000 papers are being taught online. Early figures show most students are actually logging in to watch but some are struggling for motivation.

"I need to be in the classroom listening with my phone down, otherwise I get distracted," student Hugo Hibbert said.

The lack of interaction is a big drawback for recorded classes - something lecturers are trying to overcome.

"I am having live sessions with them to actually sort of create that kind of interaction and allow them the opportunity to ask questions, and ensure that they understand the content that I'm delivering," Rodriguez-Ferrere said.