Learning during COVID-19 pandemic: leveraging on the 21 st century technologies for online learning


The global pandemic of COVID-19 is by far the most complex public health challenge in our lifetime. This public health issue has tremendously affected people’s lives and livelihoods. It is also affecting economies across the length and breadth of our world. It has changed the way we live, work and learn in the most unprecedented fashion.

Due to this crisis, institutions of higher learning have responded by shifting to online learning. The shift to online learning in South Africa and other parts of the world may exclude students from poor and working class, mostly but not solely located in rural and township areas. In this response, I will first address what necessitated shift to online learning. Secondly, I will unpack the broad implications to different individuals committed to lifelong learning and finally the lessons that could potentially be learnt from this global phenomena under the circumstances. I invite you to share your concerns, views and recommendations.

COVID-19 and shift to online learning
COVID-19 has changed our lives in the most extraordinary way. This challenge requires people to observe and practice physical distancing to reduce the spread of the virus as per the advice from health experts. As result of practice of physical distancing, conventional learning in the classroom has to migrate online and happen remotely. In a WhatsApp call with Sibusiso Gama reflecting on this matter of national importance and global significance, the President of Club Readership recommended that, “These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.”
Indeed the pandemic has changed our ways of being and becoming, in particular, how we learn.

Implications of online learning to students from different settings
In my response to his diagnoses and clarion call, I exercised leadership by penning this reflection focusing on the shift to online learning and its implications to students in different parts of the world and across different institutions of higher learning. I drew on my unique lived experience as student reading for PhD in leadership communication at Kansas State University in the United States and experiences of both my sister (Ramadimetsa Moswane) and brother (Mickey Moswane) in South Africa studying at University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) and University of Johannesburg (UJ) respectively. This piece is co-created knowledge by individuals from different institutions and study backgrounds.

In what follows, I unpack the unique experiences and collective concerns which illuminate diversity of thought, lived experiences and material conditions. As a point of departure, it has to be acknowledged that this phenomenon was unexpected, given the situation, the solutions will most likely excluded students from poor and working class condition as they are the least represented in positions of influence in institutions of higher learning and other sectors of society. Below is the juxtapositions of some concerns, recommendations, message of hope from
the co-creators.

Mickey Moswane, student at UJ.

Mickey Moswane’s story
Mickey Moswane is a student at University of Johannesburg studying Public Relations and Communications degree, from Thabampshe Ga-Masemola in Limpopo Province, South Africa. I connected with Mickey to check on him to learn how the situation affected him and many other students. Below is what he shared:

“As a result of being on lock down and potentially shifting to online learning when we re-open, I will have to use blackboard-Ulink to do my assignments and submit them online. The challenge at hand is that, due to poor network connection at home (Thabampshe Ga-Masemola), I might have to go to internet café to do my assignments, which means I risk contact with other people. It is difficult to use my phone to do assignments. I don’t know how online learning will work for me given the situation in the rural areas.”

Mickey’s story is a story of many students from the same or even worse conditions. Some students do not have technological devices like personal computer and/or smart phones. Some even do not have access to electricity and are living under inhumane conditions in the informal settlements due to history of dispossession and persisting inequalities. Despite their conditions, the students are committed to learning, however, their learning is limited by their very material conditions. Teachers as well as institutions of higher learning committed to advancing equality and equity in society should respond with the best possible solutions not to perpetuate the existing inequalities in society, the actions of institutions and leaders will determine what they stand for.

COVID-19 has indeed revealed and unmasked the racial, social and economic divides of South Africa, and of course many parts of the world. The transition to online learning will have extreme consequences for students who are from the rural areas and township settings, they will potentially be excluded from learning if online learning commences as scheduled in some institutions. They may lose a year of study and/or fail depending on how their institutions respond. This simply means there is another crisis which is revealed, and that is, digital divide. South Africa has been characterized with triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequalities, the global pandemic has exposed the additional challenge of digital divide affecting mostly students from poor and working class conditions located in the remote rural areas and highly concentrated townships.

Michelle Moswane, student at Wits University.

Ramadimetsa Moswane’s view
Ramadimetsa Moswane is studying Environmental Sciences and Geographic Information Systems at University of the Witwatersrand:

“My concern about online learning is the ability to transition from in-class learning in a short period and also learning under conditions of poor internet and network connection. However, this challenge present an opportunity to adapt to new ways of learning that are aligned with changes associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).”

In line with my younger sister’s view on shift to online learning presenting a challenge and an opportunity to adapt to new ways of learning and new ways of being as students in higher education and as people committed to lifelong learning, I hope students and teachers will find amicable solutions that will leave no students behind. This situation is a dilemma, there is no single right answer. However, I have my own fears because one of the foremost thinkers on #4IR and #Artificial intelligence Prof Thilididzi Marwala posits that, “with advancement in technologies, we must adapt to survive or risk being extinct.”

While acknowledging that these changes will affect many students in various ways and different levels. I realized how privileged I am as student at Kansas State University. I was able to shift to online learning because I have access to internet connection and I can learn from the comfort of my home in self-isolation. I am able to enjoy the privilege of being digitally connected. However, my story is not the story of for all students in my institution, there are those who do not have access like to intenet and proper network connection, there are those who do not have access to technological clasess. I do not know any because all students in my class are able to attend and I too can attend my classes, but others are in the same position like those coming from rural background, these are students I think about every day.

What can young people committed to learning do?
All students must be advocates for inclusivity in the decisions and actions of teachers, leaders, and institutions during this period. Those students who can access online learning must be allies of those who cannot and advocate for their inclusion in every possible way. Students who are unable to access online learning should communicate their situation to their teachers and institutions to avoid being academically and financially excluded. The reality is
that, the pandemic has changed conditions even for protest action, it is difficult to boycott online learning because any form of mass gathering may lead to wide spread of the virus and mass suicide. It would be advisable not to assume as a student that your teacher will know your situation. Learn to communicate and reach out even via text, call or WhatsApp if you cannot email. Use a phone of next of kin to connect with your lecture if you don’t have your own. I also want to suggest to the students who will participate in online learning to embrace technology to advance their skills and knowledge. Those students who do not have the capacity to navigate these technologies must reach out to their fellow students and mentors for guidance and support using text, call, WhatsApp and Facebook messenger as first point of connection. Be patient with yourselves in this new process of becoming and do the best you can. As you advance to use your Wits SAKAI, UJ Blackboard or any of your institutions major learning platforms, connect with your classmates to make progress academically.

There are lessons to learn from this event, experiences that are worthwhile and skills that will make some of you indispensable in the unexpected new order ushered by the pandemic. It is now undisputed truth that, all young people need to develop technological capital to prepare themselves not only for the crisis of this nature but also for the world driven by technologies of the #4IR. This global pandemic demands young people to use technologies to advance their knowledge and skills. I hope those who will be able to take part in online learning will share with those who will not be able to take part in online learning. Later when you get to campus, we urge you to develop technological skills to navigate and maneuver the 21 st century world.

Let us remain hopeful
I am of the view that, even in the midst of darkness and uncertainty, a brighter day will come. Let us remain hopeful. This is an opportunity for us to take care of ourselves and loved ones, to take care of our mental well-being, to reflect about our lives, to continue to search for our place in the world and our role in it. This is a critical moment for students committed to lifelong learning and journey of becoming to look ahead and beyond our current circumstances. This period is an opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn about everything and anything concerning
our world outside the confines of our classrooms.

Prof Thsilidzi Marwala posted on Facebook,

“Like Sir Isaac Newton during the plague when there was a lockdown 400 years ago, you should discover your own gravity (Tshilidzi Marwala, 27-03-2020, 11:24am).” Indeed we shall overcome!!

Moswane Mafule
Mafule is reading for his PhD in leadership communication at Kansas State University and writes
in his personal capacity.
10 April 2020

(Visited 112 times, 1 visits today)

84 thoughts on “Learning during COVID-19 pandemic: leveraging on the 21 st century technologies for online learning

  1. Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web
    site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account
    aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this
    your broadcast provided bright clear concept

  2. Appreciating the persistence you put into your website and in depth information you provide.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the
    same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  3. I just want to say I’m new to weblog and honestly savored this web blog. Likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You surely come with incredible articles and reviews. Thanks a lot for sharing your website.

  4. Faytech North America is a touch screen Manufacturer of both monitors and pcs. They specialize in the design, development, manufacturing and marketing of Capacitive touch screen, Resistive touch screen, Industrial touch screen, IP65 touch screen, touchscreen monitors and integrated touchscreen PCs. Contact them at http://www.faytech.us, 121 Varick Street, New York, NY 10013, +1 646 205 3214.

  5. I’ve observed that in the world nowadays, video games are classified as the latest popularity with kids of all ages. Occasionally it may be impossible to drag your family away from the video games. If you want the very best of both worlds, there are several educational games for kids. Good post.

  6. The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t disappoint me just as much as this particular one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly believed you would probably have something interesting to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of complaining about something you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

  7. When I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thanks.

  8. I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your content. This article has really peaked my interest. I’m going to book mark your site and keep checking for new details about once a week. I opted in for your Feed too.

  9. May I simply say what a relief to find somebody who really knows what they’re talking about on the net. You actually understand how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people must look at this and understand this side of your story. It’s surprising you’re not more popular because you certainly have the gift.

  10. Sapid Agency is a Search Engine Optimization company in New York City that provides SEO Services. Their proprietary SEO strategies help struggling websites and aspiring business owners to rank their websites higher in multiple search engines like Google , Yahoo and Bing. They provide local and gmb map ranking for businesses in NYC and many other local areas. Find more at https://www.sapidagency.com/ @ 145 E 57TH NEW YORK, NY 10022, USA, +1 971 341 5608 USA

  11. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic
    to be actually something which I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

  12. My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on various websites for about a year and am worried about
    switching to another platform. I have heard good things about blogengine.net.

    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content
    into it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

  13. I really wish to inform you that I am new to blog posting and utterly valued your site. Most likely I am prone to bookmark your blog post . You really have lovely article blog posts. Truly Appreciate it for swapping with us your very own internet site document

  14. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.

    Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do
    it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to design my own blog
    and would like to know where u got this from. appreciate it

  15. Thank you for every other wonderful article. Where else could anyone get that
    kind of information in such an ideal manner of writing?
    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the
    search for such information.

  16. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I’ll send this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  17. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a
    team of volunteers and starting a new initiative
    in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to
    work on. You have done a extraordinary job!

  18. Hello there! This post could not be written any better! Going through
    this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly
    kept talking about this. I most certainly will send this article to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thank
    you for sharing!

  19. I think everything wrote made a great deal of sense.
    However, consider this, suppose you composed a catchier title?
    I ain’t suggesting your information is not good., but suppose you added
    a headline to maybe get folk’s attention? I mean Learning during COVID-19 pandemic:
    leveraging on the 21 st century technologies for online learning |
    CR Magazine is a little boring. You ought to peek at Yahoo’s front page and note how they create news headlines to
    get viewers to open the links. You might add a related
    video or a picture or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve written.
    Just my opinion, it might make your website a little livelier.

  20. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find many of
    your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content available for you?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write regarding here.
    Again, awesome weblog!

  21. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have take into accout your stuff
    prior to and you’re just too excellent. I really like what you’ve obtained here, certainly like what you are saying and
    the best way by which you assert it. You make it enjoyable and
    you continue to care for to stay it wise. I can not wait to read far more from you.
    That is really a tremendous web site.

  22. Greetings here, just turned alert to your blogging site through Yahoo and bing, and realized that it’s truly educational. I’ll be grateful for if you decide to keep up this approach.

  23. Sapid Agency is a Search Engine Optimization company in New York City that provides SEO Services. Their proprietary SEO strategies help struggling websites and aspiring business owners to rank their websites higher in multiple search engines like Google , Yahoo and Bing. They provide local and gmb map ranking for businesses in NYC and many other local areas. Find more at https://www.sapidagency.com/ @ 145 E 57TH NEW YORK, NY 10022, USA, +1 971 341 5608 USA

  24. The very next time I read a blog, I hope that it does not disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly thought you’d have something helpful to talk about. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you weren’t too busy seeking attention.

  25. Hey, I think your site might be having browser compatibility
    issues. When I look at your blog site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping.
    I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

  26. It is appropriate time to make some plans for the longer term and it’s time to be happy.
    I have learn this post and if I could I desire to counsel
    you some attention-grabbing issues or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article.
    I want to learn even more things about it!

  27. I just want to mention I am new to blogging and site-building and actually savored you’re page. Likely I’m want to bookmark your website . You amazingly come with really good articles and reviews. Many thanks for sharing with us your blog site.

  28. Thanks for your post. I would also love to say this that the first thing you will need to complete is check if you really need credit improvement. To do that you simply must get your hands on a replica of your credit score. That should really not be difficult, because the government makes it necessary that you are allowed to receive one free copy of the credit report per year. You just have to consult the right persons. You can either look into the website with the Federal Trade Commission as well as contact one of the leading credit agencies right away.

  29. You’re so cool! I don’t believe I have read something like this before. So good to find somebody with genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is something that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality.

  30. I was pretty pleased to discover this web site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and I have you book-marked to look at new information on your site.

  31. I’m very pleased to uncover this website. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to check out new stuff on your website.

  32. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I will forward this information to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial