COVID-19 – The highpoints and low points with online learning.

From the perspective of a tech-loving teacher in South Africa.

March 2020

When I was informed by our president last Sunday that we would be ending the term earlier and I would be commencing with online learning I was rather excited. I enjoy technology – and this would be the perfect time for me to try out some new tools. I teach a dynamic and very relevant subject called Computer Applications Technology (CAT). We had just received our Grade 11 Research (PAT) project’s theme of online collaboration.

This is going to be brilliant I thought. We will have collaborative lessons, while everyone is at home. What could go wrong?

Living in South Africa as a person with privilege that doesn’t extend to all South Africans you have to keep in mind there are huge challenges to consider.

Some challenges you will find will include:

  1. Does everyone have access to the internet?
  2. It the internet access reliable? (Cellular data vs Fibre)
  3. Does everyone have access to a computer? (or do they have to use their phone to complete their homework)
  4. What happens if load shedding hits? (No electricity for a couple of hours a day)

Other challenges might also be:

  1. Teenagers like to sleep – not everyone will wake up in time for your lesson.
  2. It is so easy to get distracted when at home.
  3. Not all teenagers will want to join a class video conference.
  4. Some learners lack self-motivation and actually need someone hounding them to do the work.

How do I navigate these challenges as a teacher? Due to load shedding in the previous weeks – I had already completed most of the theory work. I am left with either starting a new section of work – Microsoft Access (Databases) or continuing with a program they are familiar- but it isn’t their favourite – Microsoft Excel. I choose to continue with Excel.


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