Title: Entering University During Times of Disruption: Experiences of First Year Students From a Historically Disadvantaged University in South Africa During the Covid19 Pandemic
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Clever Ndebele, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa
Dagogo Legg-Jack, Walter Sisulu University, South Africa
The sudden migration to online teaching and learning triggered by COVID-19 pandemic catalysed the massive deployment of ICTs infrastructure in higher education institutions. In South Africa this has been met with the challenge of digital inequality across various institutions, especially with rural based historically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs). The challenge to transition from face-to-face to online remote learning, is more pronounced for those entering the university for the first time, as they struggle between transition from high school to the university and from traditional face-to-face to online remote learning. This study, located in the interpretive paradigm employed a qualitative approach through the use of an opened-ended online questionnaire to explore the experiences of First Year students from an HDI during the COVID-19 pandemic. Convenience sampling was used to select 52 students from one diploma programme. Data was analysed thematically. Technology Acceptance Model was employed as a theoretical lens to frame the study. Findings highlighted challenges with device ownership and Learning Management System (LMS) use, Student Access to the LMS due to connectivity challenges in rural areas, interaction experience with other students online and challenges associated with interacting with Lecturers online. The study recommends that deliberate efforts at be made national level to bridge the digital divide between students from HDIs and historically advantaged universities (HAIs) through provision of requisite technology infrastructure. Further, the study recommends capacity building in the use of information communication technologies for students from historically disadvantaged communities who may not be privy to the technologies.
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