Reflecting on Online Learning

Online and distance learning are by no means new learning modes to secondary, tertiary or higher education; however, until 15 March 2020 the majority of Bachelor of Education (BEd) degrees available for enrolment in South Africa were neither. Students eager to study teaching were required to enroll in universities and study in the traditional way by attending classes, writing examinations and undertaking teaching practice in in-person learning and shortly after, blended learning.

Post pandemic, the government regulations mandated worldwide required all institutes to revise their structures and processes entirely. In order to adapt to such unprecedented (and at times, fluctuating) conditions, this new way of work involved substantial adaption on a macro and micro level. Existing infrastructural approaches, systems, policies, line management and other orders were revised, and this ripple effect trickled into every facet of the individual’s daily life. This was complicated further on a personal level through resultant and ongoing emotional pandemics of fear, distrust, worry, and grief for what once was.

Given the immediacy with which this adaption was required to take place, and given that this advent brought about compulsory terra incognito for all sectors on a collective and individual level, naturally the new processes implemented underwent resistance, re-learning, trial and error. It is just over two years since the National State of Disaster was declared; it is valuable to reflect on how online learning has both simplified and complicated the educative process for students, educators and education staff alike. What are the (unforeseen) challenges and benefits that both educators and learners experience? How can systems be optimised to maintain the integrity and purpose of education? Are the current methodologies sustainable, and how do they fit in with the National Development Plan (2013) which aim(ed) to fulfil its goals by 2030?

South African Government. 2013. National Development Plan 2030: Our future — making it work. [Online]. Available at:
[Accessed: 2 April 2021].