Proceedings of The 4th International Conference on Teaching, Learning and Education
‘Swim or sink’: Student and lecturer experiences of emergency online learning at a rural university in South Africa
While education institutions around the world are attempting to salvage teaching and learning operations in their institutions, the most debilitating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been in the global south countries which have little or no resources at their disposal. South African higher education institutions are not exempted from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though attempts have been made to ensure the continued delivery of education in the present circumstances, there remains protuberant challenges to access and equality in education. As such, this paper sought to explore the experiences of university students and lecturers at a rural South African university with regard to the attempts made to rescue education during the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve this, the study utilized a qualitative research approach in which data were collected from students and lecturers using an online survey. The study revealed that although emergency online learning was implemented at the institution in this study, this online pedagogy did not become automatically accessible due to a variety of constraints such as the lack of technology-enabled devices, infrastructure, policies, and digital illiteracy among other factors. The study, therefore, recommends among other things, that a good starting point to address the lack of equitable access to education in the new normal would be for rural institutions to adjust their learning models to suit the unique needs of their rural environment.
Keywords: access, COVID-19, emergency, inclusivity, online learning.