Book cover of "Online, Open, and Equitable Education: Lessons from Teaching and Learning during the Global Pandemic" Edited by Nancy Turner, Nick Baker, David J. Hornsby, Aline Germain-Rutherford, David Graham, and Brad Wuetherick

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Coming summer 2024

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“Remote Teaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Personal Reflection” by Ufuoma Akpojivi reflects on the emergency shift to remote teaching at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. This transition was influenced by the COVID-19 lockdown but accentuated pre-existing challenges in higher education such as inclusivity and access, which were already under scrutiny from the #FeesMustFall movement. Akpojivi contrasts the experiences of teaching two different courses—one that transitioned mid-semester from face-to-face to online, and another designed from the outset for remote delivery during the pandemic. The reflection highlights various adopted pedagogical strategies, such as asynchronous learning to cater to diverse student needs, and the challenges of maintaining student engagement and integrity in an online environment. The courses’ outcomes suggest that while pass rates remained high, deeper issues of equitable access and effective engagement remained significant barriers, necessitating thoughtful pedagogical approaches and infrastructural support to truly democratize education in crisis contexts.

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Discussion Questions

  • How did the historical and societal challenges faced by South African universities impact the transition to online learning during the pandemic?
  • What pedagogical adjustments did Akpojivi make to accommodate the shift to online teaching, and how effective were these strategies in maintaining student engagement?
  • In what ways did asynchronous learning platforms help address issues of accessibility and equity among students?
  • What were the main challenges in student participation and engagement noted during remote teaching, and how might these be addressed in future course designs?
  • How do the experiences shared by Akpojivi reflect broader issues of digital divide and educational equity in the context of South African higher education?
  • Reflecting on the shift to online learning during the pandemic, what long-term changes should institutions consider to better prepare for future disruptions in higher education?