Remote Teaching and Learning at a South African University During Covid-19 Lockdown: Moments of Resilience, Agency and Resignation in First-Year Students’ Online Discussions


  • Pineteh E. Angu


Covid-19 lockdown; remote teaching/learning; resilience; resignation; South Africa


The aim of article is to analyse the remote teaching and learning experiences of students, as expressed in online discussions among first-year students at a South African university, to enhance understanding of how learning remotely during Covid-19 lockdown affected students’ lives and their academic commitment. The article draws on data collected from 45 students, mainly aged between 18 and 22, registered for an academic literacy course. These students came from diverse racial, socioeconomic and schooling backgrounds, although most were black students. These participants’ Covid-19 and remote learning experiences are used in this case study as qualitative datasets. To generate rich narratives, a set of open-ended questions were designed and posted on the course’s Blackboard page. The questions focused on the socioeconomic, psychological and academic effects of Covid-19 during the lockdown. At the end of the course, a thematic analytical approach was used to identify and categorise participants’ online discussions into key themes. The datasets were then interpreted through the lens of predetermined concepts such as resilience, resilience and agency. The data show that some students saw remote learning as an opportunity to be creative and innovative, but for others, their socioeconomic situation negatively affected their lives and academic commitment. Students’ remote teaching and learning experiences revealed moments of resilience and agency, but also a deep sense of resignation to the socioeconomic and psychological burdens of Covid-19. Based on these findings, this article discusses some implications for the future of higher education in South Africa and recommends possibilities for further research.


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