The Appropriation of Digital Technologies by University Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Towards A Pedagogical Approach to Digital Transformation in Response to Future Pandemics

  • Silka A. Naishindi Department of Communication and Languages, Faculty of Commerce, Human Sciences and Education Namibia University of Science and Technology Windhoek, Namibia
  • Hatikanganwi Mapudzi London College of Communication, University of the Arts London, London, UK
  • Itai Zviyita Department of Communication and Media, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa
Keywords: E-learning; COVID-19; Global South; Pedagogy


Concerns about the effectiveness of E-learning in education during the COVID-19 pandemic attracted substantial scholarly attention worldwide. Most of the studies identified the pandemic as a double-edged sword necessitating further scholarly debates. Even though these studies are instrumental in contextualising this topical issue, there is a disconcerting absence of such empirical studies in countries associated with vertical inequality, mostly those in the Global South. Cognisant of the contextual nature of technology and how actors and their interests intersect to shape how such technologies in their contexts maybe appropriated, this study assessed the effectiveness of E-learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, using the case study of a public university. It deployed the model of technology appropriation framework, the social justice theory, and qualitative interviews with 35 undergraduate students across faculties at the university. The findings indicated that just like in other higher education institutions (HEIs) in developing countries, the adoption of E-learning amid the COVID-19 lockdown acted as a double-edged sword. On one hand, online learning provided opportunities for some students, such as the convenience of learning at one's own pace and enhanced performance. On the other hand, empirical evidence demonstrates prevailing several challenges such as the digital gap among students, lack of ICT resources and lack of motivation and skills, inter alia. Thus, technical issues such as network, data and computer malfunctions, hindered the effective use of E-learning during the COVID-19 lockdown.  While there are similarities on the challenges of E-learning between those documented in various parts of the world, it is important to acknowledge the differences based on local peculiarities.  Going forward, we noted the need to adopt the 21st century pedagogical skills that promote collaboration, critical thinking and inclusivity, in teaching and learning in higher education.


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How to Cite
Naishindi, S. A., Mapudzi, H., & Zviyita, I. (2024). The Appropriation of Digital Technologies by University Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Towards A Pedagogical Approach to Digital Transformation in Response to Future Pandemics. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 7(3), 189-204.