Factors that Impact on E-Learning in a Selected South African University: a pedagogical perspective

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Tebogo Kekana, MJ Mogoboya


There is already a myriad of evidence in the literature to show that historically black universities in South Africa (SA) are struggling with the adoption of e-learning for a number of reasons. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 5th March 2020 added more challenges to these already struggling institutions. This article offers a brief discussion of the current situation regarding higher education institutions in SA. After a brief account of the general background to these institutions, the article focuses on the main thrusts of the document: exploration, identification, interrogation and analyses of the factors that hamper effective e-learning as a pedagogical aspect due to the advent of COVID-19; and further offers remedial interventions through which these institutions can be enabled to overcome the challenges hampering e-learning amid COVID-19.The study adopted an ethnographic approach, gathered data from twenty-two lecturers and students through interviews, focus group conversations and hanging out approaches. This qualitative study that uses an exploratory design sought to identify, examine, interrogate and analyse the factors that negatively impact on the prospects of a successful e-learning pedagogy in the selected university. Data were elicited using a self-designed questionnaire and in-depth focus group interviews with twenty-two (22) research subjects from a specifically selected university in Limpopo Province, SA. These two instruments were also complemented by other relevant scholarly texts. Furthermore, the study used a dual theoretical framework, namely, Environmental Equivalence Theory and Afrocentricity. An analysis of the data revealed the following key findings: low motivation to study through e-learning among students (particularly first year students); the shift from conventional teaching to technology based learning, have been viewed pejoratively by a significantly high number of students and lecturers. Lack of lecturers’ training to facilitate e-learning based pedagogy; lack delivery of electronic gadgets to enable learning; poor internet connectivity in some remote villages; no tutors to help blind students; infrastructure that is not suited for ‘social distance’ protocol; lack of teaching and learning materials that are tailored for e-learning purposes. Some students argued that e-learning does not suit their learning style and somehow infringes on their right of academic freedom. The findings may inform curriculum developers in various academic institutions to better plan for effective e-learning in future. 

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