Student Experiences and Perceptions of Remote Teaching and Learning at A University of Technology
Background: Over a year after the first case of COVID-19 in South Africa, efforts are being made to roll out a mass vaccination programme that should contribute to achieving herd immunity. While the vaccination drive is underway, the higher education sector has resorted to online remote teaching as a way of saving the academic year and saving lives.
Objectives: This study examined the experiences and perceptions of ten undergraduate students on remote teaching and learning at a university of technology. It considered their perspectives on aspects such as the affordances of various digital platforms used for teaching and learning, as well as academic and personal challenges encountered by students in the remote learning sphere.
Method: The study is grounded in Moore’s 1993 Transactional Distance Theory, which suggests that the quality and intensity of the interaction between the learner and the learning environment influences performance within distance learning environments. Data was collected using questionnaires, Semi-structured interviews, and an analysis of the various digital platforms (WhatsApp, Blackboard etc) used for remote teaching. The data was analysed using Tesch’s steps of qualitative data analysis.
Findings: Drawing on the data from these sources, the paper argues that the move from face-to-face to remote teaching and learning occurred in a challenging context which partly reflects broader societal challenges. Teaching and learning in this university like others, faced the ‘new normal’ way of teaching and learning. The study reveals that, in fragile times such as in the period of the pandemic, lecturers need to be more creative and innovative in their online teaching in order to promote effective and efficient teaching and learning.
Conclusion: The study recommends that both the lecturers and management must put some strategies in place to enhance remote teaching and learning during situations such as the Covid- 19 pandemic.
Keywords: Remote teaching and learning, COVID-19, Teaching and learning, Experiences, Perceptions, Technology