Covid-19 and the virtual classroom conundrum in Zimbabwean universities

Keywords: Covid-19 Virtual classroom, social distancing, techno-based pedagogy, gender, digital divide, e-learning

Abstract

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has reconfigured the mode of curriculum delivery and assessment in universities, moving much of the teaching to online platforms. Whilst the virtual classroom becomes the most tenable alternative to address educational needs under the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, most universities in Zimbabwe have been found wanting responsive to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and techno-savvy human capital. In maintaining social distancing due to Covid-19, this exploratory study employed in-depth telephone interviews with purposively sampled 5 deans, 5 lecturers and 2 disadvantaged students from five universities (3 state and 2 private). Forty more students (20 males and 20 females) for the 5 FGDs of 8 participants each were selected through stratified random sampling. The study adopts a qualitative approach to collect, present and analyze data. The findings of the study reveal that a techno-based curriculum delivery approach becomes discriminatory and intensifies social exclusion as some students living with disabilities and others in poverty struggle to access the e-learning resource materials. Furthermore, gendered stereotypical perceptions on the competencies of the girl child with regards to technology tend to compromise her effectiveness as an independent learner through ICT. Above all, geographical location, particularly the rural areas, becomes another serious impediment to techno-based curriculum delivery due to lack of electricity and access to the internet. For Zimbabwe, the situation becomes dire and complicated because of the economic meltdown prevailing in the country. The study thus concludes that while the virtual classroom remains the most tenable alternative in the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, it concomitantly excludes disadvantaged learners in the process. Covid-19 is likely to precipitate unprecedented levels of University student attrition in developing nations like Zimbabwe. universities as service institutions are thus encouraged to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure while the government subsidies the cost of internet bandwidth and data bundles to enable students to access the e-learning materials.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has reconfigured the mode of curriculum delivery and assessment in universities, moving much of the teaching to online platforms. Whilst the virtual classroom becomes the most tenable alternative to address educational needs under the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, most universities in Zimbabwe have been found wanting responsive to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and techno-savvy human capital. In maintaining social distancing due to Covid-19, this exploratory study employed in-depth telephone interviews with purposively sampled 5 deans, 5 lecturers and 2 disadvantaged students from five universities (3 state and 2 private). Forty more students (20 males and 20 females) for the 5 FGDs of 8 participants each were selected through stratified random sampling. The study adopts a qualitative approach to collect, present and analyze data. The findings of the study reveal that a techno-based curriculum delivery approach becomes discriminatory and intensifies social exclusion as some students living with disabilities and others in poverty struggle to access the e-learning resource materials. Furthermore, gendered stereotypical perceptions on the competencies of the girl child with regards to technology tend to compromise her effectiveness as an independent learner through ICT. Above all, geographical location, particularly the rural areas, becomes another serious impediment to techno-based curriculum delivery due to lack of electricity and access to the internet. For Zimbabwe, the situation becomes dire and complicated because of the economic meltdown prevailing in the country. The study thus concludes that while the virtual classroom remains the most tenable alternative in the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, it concomitantly excludes disadvantaged learners in the process. Covid-19 is likely to precipitate unprecedented levels of University student attrition in developing nations like Zimbabwe. universities as service institutions are thus encouraged to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure while the government subsidies the cost of internet bandwidth and data bundles to enable students to access the e-learning materials.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has reconfigured the mode of curriculum delivery and assessment in universities, moving much of the teaching to online platforms. Whilst the virtual classroom becomes the most tenable alternative to address educational needs under the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, most universities in Zimbabwe have been found wanting responsive to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and techno-savvy human capital. In maintaining social distancing due to Covid-19, this exploratory study employed in-depth telephone interviews with purposively sampled 5 deans, 5 lecturers and 2 disadvantaged students from five universities (3 state and 2 private). Forty more students (20 males and 20 females) for the 5 FGDs of 8 participants each were selected through stratified random sampling. The study adopts a qualitative approach to collect, present and analyze data. The findings of the study reveal that a techno-based curriculum delivery approach becomes discriminatory and intensifies social exclusion as some students living with disabilities and others in poverty struggle to access the e-learning resource materials. Furthermore, gendered stereotypical perceptions on the competencies of the girl child with regards to technology tend to compromise her effectiveness as an independent learner through ICT. Above all, geographical location, particularly the rural areas, becomes another serious impediment to techno-based curriculum delivery due to lack of electricity and access to the internet. For Zimbabwe, the situation becomes dire and complicated because of the economic meltdown prevailing in the country. The study thus concludes that while the virtual classroom remains the most tenable alternative in the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, it concomitantly excludes disadvantaged learners in the process. Covid-19 is likely to precipitate unprecedented levels of University student attrition in developing nations like Zimbabwe. universities as service institutions are thus encouraged to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure while the government subsidies the cost of internet bandwidth and data bundles to enable students to access the e-learning materials.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has reconfigured the mode of curriculum delivery and assessment in universities, moving much of the teaching to online platforms. Whilst the virtual classroom becomes the most tenable alternative to address educational needs under the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, most universities in Zimbabwe have been found wanting responsive to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and techno-savvy human capital. In maintaining social distancing due to Covid-19, this exploratory study employed in-depth telephone interviews with purposively sampled 5 deans, 5 lecturers and 2 disadvantaged students from five universities (3 state and 2 private). Forty more students (20 males and 20 females) for the 5 FGDs of 8 participants each were selected through stratified random sampling. The study adopts a qualitative approach to collect, present and analyze data. The findings of the study reveal that a techno-based curriculum delivery approach becomes discriminatory and intensifies social exclusion as some students living with disabilities and others in poverty struggle to access the e-learning resource materials. Furthermore, gendered stereotypical perceptions on the competencies of the girl child with regards to technology tend to compromise her effectiveness as an independent learner through ICT. Above all, geographical location, particularly the rural areas, becomes another serious impediment to techno-based curriculum delivery due to lack of electricity and access to the internet. For Zimbabwe, the situation becomes dire and complicated because of the economic meltdown prevailing in the country. The study thus concludes that while the virtual classroom remains the most tenable alternative in the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, it concomitantly excludes disadvantaged learners in the process. Covid-19 is likely to precipitate unprecedented levels of University student attrition in developing nations like Zimbabwe. universities as service institutions are thus encouraged to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure while the government subsidies the cost of internet bandwidth and data bundles to enable students to access the e-learning materials.

Covid-19 is a global pandemic that has reconfigured the mode of curriculum delivery and assessment in universities, moving much of the teaching to online platforms. Whilst the virtual classroom becomes the most tenable alternative to address educational needs under the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, most universities in Zimbabwe have been found wanting responsive to information communication technology (ICT) infrastructures and techno-savvy human capital. In maintaining social distancing due to Covid-19, this exploratory study employed in-depth telephone interviews with purposively sampled 5 deans, 5 lecturers and 2 disadvantaged students from five universities (3 state and 2 private). Forty more students (20 males and 20 females) for the 5 FGDs of 8 participants each were selected through stratified random sampling. The study adopts a qualitative approach to collect, present and analyze data. The findings of the study reveal that a techno-based curriculum delivery approach becomes discriminatory and intensifies social exclusion as some students living with disabilities and others in poverty struggle to access the e-learning resource materials. Furthermore, gendered stereotypical perceptions on the competencies of the girl child with regards to technology tend to compromise her effectiveness as an independent learner through ICT. Above all, geographical location, particularly the rural areas, becomes another serious impediment to techno-based curriculum delivery due to lack of electricity and access to the internet. For Zimbabwe, the situation becomes dire and complicated because of the economic meltdown prevailing in the country. The study thus concludes that while the virtual classroom remains the most tenable alternative in the circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, it concomitantly excludes disadvantaged learners in the process. Covid-19 is likely to precipitate unprecedented levels of University student attrition in developing nations like Zimbabwe. universities as service institutions are thus encouraged to invest heavily in ICT infrastructure while the government subsidies the cost of internet bandwidth and data bundles to enable students to access the e-learning materials.

Published
2022-03-29
Section
Research Articles