Neutralising the digital divide: is blended learning a viable solution?
Keywords:digital divide, educational technologies, ideological ware resources, blended learning, access
The digital divide (DD), which refers to the gap resulting from unequal access to digital technology hardware, software and ideological-ware resources, arises from disparities in accessing, material and physical resources that enable internet access. In the contemporary world, this divide extends beyond internet access to include the ability to manipulate educational technologies in the knowledge building process. Therefore, the installation of the internet infrastructure in communities should not be considered as the sole facility to access. In attempting to curb the DD, blended learning is seen to be a possible viable option. It is against this backdrop that this article sought to explore the role of blended learning in neutralising DD. This qualitative case study employed the resources and appropriation theory as a lens to analyse DD as a result of societal inequalities and unequal distribution of resources. The community of Inquiry (COI) framework was also used as a theoretical lens to guide the implementation of social and cognitive knowledge-building in a blended learning context. The reported study employed purposive sampling involving 26 participants who were the recipients of blended learning in one institution of higher learning (HEI) in Lesotho. Data were generated through reflective journals and one-on-one semi-structured interviews, and guided analysis was used to interpret the generated data. The findings established that blended learning has the capacity to neutralise DD, as it affords students the flexibility to design and engage in individualised learning experiences through both offline and online modes of teaching and learning, thereby meeting their access needs. The recommendation proposed in this article, thus, is for HEIs to adopt blended learning to eliminate categorical inequalities and social divisions in education, ideally promoting equilibrated inclusion of individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds in the teaching and learning process.
Adedoyin, O. B., & Soykan, E. (2020). Covid-19 pandemic and online learning: The challenges and opportunities. Interactive Learning Environments. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2020.1813180 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/10494820.2020.1813180
Adnan, M., & Anwar, K. (2020). Online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Students perspectives. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 1(2), 45–51. https://doi.org/10.33902/JPSP. 2020261309 DOI: https://doi.org/10.33902/JPSP.2020261309
Akyol, Z. and Garrison, D. R. (2008). The Development of a community of inquiry over time in an online course: Understanding the progression and integration of social, cognitive and teaching presence. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 12(3), 3-22. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ837483.pdf DOI: https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v12i3.72
Ayentimi, D. T., & Burgess, J. (2018). Is the Fourth Industrial Revolution relevant to sub-Sahara Africa? Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 31(6), 641–652. https://doi.org/10.1080/09537325. 2018.1542129 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09537325.2018.1542129
Bates, A. (2018). Teaching in a digital age: guidelines for designing teaching and learning for digital age. Tony Bates Associates Ltd, London
Bernstein, B. (1999). Vertical and horizontal discourse: An essay. British Journal of Sociology of Education 20(2), 157-173. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/01425699995380
Biesta, G. (2015). What is education for? On good education, teacher judgement, and educational professionalism. European Journal of Education 50(1), 75-87. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12109 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ejed.12109
Castle, S. R., & McGuire, C. J. (2010). An analysis of student self-assessment of online, blended, and face-to-face learning environments: Implications for sustainable education delivery. International Education Studies, 3(3), 36-40. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1065994.pdf DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ies.v3n3p36
Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2011). Research Methods in Education (7th Edition). London: Routledge.
Colreavy-Donelly, S., Ryan, A., O’Connor, S., Caraffini, F., Kuhn, S., and Hasshu, S. (2022). A Proposed VR Platform for Supporting Blended Learning Post-COVID-19. Educ.Sci 12, 435-452. https://doi.org/10.3390/edusci12070435 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12070435
Creswell, J. W., and Creswell, J. D. (2018). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. London: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Dhawan, S. (2020). Online Learning: A Panacea in the Time of COVID-19 Crisis. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 49(1), 5-22. https://doi.org/10.1177/0047239520934018 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0047239520934018
Dhull, I. and Sakshi, M. S. (2017). Online Learning. International Education 3(8), 32-34.
Etikan, I., Musa, S. A., & Alkassim, R. S. (2016). Comparison of Convenience Sampling and Purposive Sampling. American Journal of Theoretical and Applied Statistics, 5(1), 1-4. https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ajtas.20160501.11 DOI: https://doi.org/10.11648/j.ajtas.20160501.11
Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2001). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in Higher Education. The Internet and Higher Education 2(2-3), 87-105. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S1096-7516(00)00016-6
Garrison, D.R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2010). The first decade of the community of inquiry framework: A retrospective. Internet High. Educ. 13, 5–9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.003 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.10.003
Garrison, D. R. (2007). Online Community of Inquiry review: social, cognitive and teaching presence issues. Online learning 11(1), 61-72. https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v11i1.1737 DOI: https://doi.org/10.24059/olj.v11i1.1737
Gonzales, A. (2016). The contemporary US digital divide: from initial access to technology maintenance. Information Communication and Society 19(2), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1050438 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2015.1050438
Govender, R., & Mpungose, C. (2022). Lecturers’ technostress at a South African university in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19). Cogent Education, 9(1). 1-16. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2022.2125205 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2022.2125205
Henaku, E. A. (2020). COVID-19: Online learning experience of college students: The case of Ghana. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Sciences and Advanced Technology, 1(2), 54-62. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342586709_COVID19_Online_Learning_Experience_of_College_Students_The_Case_of_Ghana
Hilbert, M. (2015). Digital divides(s). The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society (1st Edition). John Wiley & Sons. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118290743/wbiedcs012 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118767771.wbiedcs012
Idiegbeyan-Ose, J., Esse, U., Fagbohun, M., Ilo, P., Osinulu, I., Adebayo, O., Olawoyin, O., Nwokeoma, N. (2018). Digital divide: Challenges for Library and Information Services Provision in Developing Countries. Proceedings of ICERI2018 Conference 12th-14th November 2018, Seville, Spain, pp 0717-0722 DOI: https://doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2018.1147
Jansen, J. (2021). Are South African universities disengaged from Civic Duty? South African Journal of Science 118,1/2. https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2022/12799 DOI: https://doi.org/10.17159/sajs.2022/12799
Kim, H. Y. (2012). Learning opportunities in synchronous computer-mediated communication and face-to-face interaction. Computer Assisted Language Learning 27(1), 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2012.692386 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09588221.2012.692386
Khoza, S. B. (2020). Academics’ “Why” of Knowledge-Building for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and COVID-19 Era. International Journal of Higher Education 9(6), 247-258. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v9n6p247 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v9n6p247
Khoza, S. B., & Biyela, A. T. (2020). Decolonising technological content knowledge of first year mathematics students. Education and Information Technologies, 25(1), 2665–2679. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-019-10084-4 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-019-10084-4
Khoza, S. B. (2021). Can teachers’ identities come to the rescue in the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Technology, Knowledge and Learning. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-021-09560-z. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-021-09560-z
Khoza, S. B. (2022). Digital images to the rescue of academics as knowledge Resources for Educating Curriculum Studies Students. Knowledge, 2, 663-681. https://doi.org/10.3390/knowledge2040038 DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/knowledge2040038
Liu, L. (2021). Bridging digital divide amidst educational change for socially inclusive learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic. SAGE Open 11(4), 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440211060810 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/21582440211060810
Makafane, D. T., & Chere-Masopha, J. (2021). COVID-19 crisis: Challenges of online learning in one university in Lesotho. African Perspectives of Research in Teaching and Learning 5(1), 126-138. http://hdl.handle.net/10386/3299
Makumane, M. (2018). Educators’ enactment strategies of the French integrated curriculum in Lesotho: An action research [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Makumane, M. & Khoza, S. B. (2020). Educators’ reasonings and their effects on successful attainment of curriculum goals. South African Journal of Higher Education 34(2), 95-111. DOI: https://doi.org/10.20853/34-2-3428
Makumane, M. A. (2021). Students’ perceptions on the use of LMS at a Lesotho university amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. African Identities, DOI:10.1080/14725843.2021.1898930 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14725843.2021.1898930
Makumane, M. A., Khoza, S. B. & Piliso, B. B. (2022). Representation of pragmatism in scholarly publications on COVID-19. International Journal of Higher Education 11(2), 161-171. https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v11n2p161 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/ijhe.v11n2p161
Makumane, M. A., Khoza, S. B. & Zuma, S. (2022). Vaccine education to the rescue of students in the COVID-19 revolution. Research in Business & Social Science, 11(10), 328-340. https://doi.org/10.20525/ijrbs.v11i10.2216 DOI: https://doi.org/10.20525/ijrbs.v11i10.2216
Makumane, M. A. & Mpungose, C. B. (2022). Digital divide: Secondary school learners’ experiences of using educational technologies. Alternation Special Edition 39, 214 – 238. https://doi.org/10.29086/2519-5476/2022/sp39a10
Maree, N., and Vos, D. (2021). The influence and value of science and technology in the education systems of South Africa and Russia. Perspectives in Education 39(4), 27-42. https://doi.org/10.18820/2519593X/pie.v39.i4.3 DOI: https://doi.org/10.18820/2519593X/pie.v39.i4.3
Mashinini, V. (2020). COVID-19 and National University of Lesotho: Experiences and challenges. International Journal of Education and Research 8(9), 157-180.
Mataka, T. W., Mukurunge, T., & Bhila, T. (2020). Virtual teaching and learning: A sad reality of the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’, The Teacher’s Voice in Zimbabwe During COVID 19 Pandemic. International Journal of All Research Writings 1(12).
Mbambo-Thata, B. (2020). Responding to COVID-19 in an African university: the case the National University of Lesotho library. Digital Library Perspectives 2020(4), 28-38. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/DLP-07-2020-0061
Moralista, R. B., & Oducado, R. M. F. (2020). Faculty perception toward online education in a state college in the Philippines during the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) pandemic. Universal Journal of Educational Research, 8(10), 4736–4742. https://doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2020.081044 DOI: https://doi.org/10.13189/ujer.2020.081044
Mpungose, C. (2020). Emergent transition from face-to-face to online learning in a South African University in the Context of the Coronavirus pandemic. Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 7(113), 1-9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-020-00603-x DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/s41599-020-00603-x
Mpungose, C. & S. Khoza 2021. Postgraduate Students’ Experiences on the Use of Moodle and Canvas Learning Management Systems. Technology, Knowledge and Learning 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-020-09475-1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10758-020-09475-1
Ntim, S., Opoku-Manu, M., and Addai-Amoah, A. (2021). Post COVID-19 and the potential of blended learning in higher institutions: Exploring students and lecturers perspectives on learning outcomes in blended learning. European Journal of Education and Pedagogy 2(6), 49-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.24018/ejedu.2021.2.6.162 DOI: https://doi.org/10.24018/ejedu.2021.2.6.162
Mwim, E. N., & Kritzinger, E. (2016. Views of digital divide: A literature review. 2nd African conference on information systems and technology (ACIST),2016, Information Systems & Technology Innovation for Digital Africa, 5th and 6th July 2016. Executive Conference Centre, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra, Ghana. https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=acist2016
Ngubane-Mokiwa, S. A., & Khoza, S. B. (2021). Using Community of Inquiry (CoI) to facilitate the design of a holistic e-learning experience for students with visual impairments. Education Sciences 11(152), 1-12. ehttps://doi.org/10.3390/xxxxx DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11040152
Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide: Civic engagement, information poverty and the internet worldwide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139164887
Ragnedda, M. (2019). Conceptualising the digital divide. In: Mapping Digital Divide in Africa: A Mediated Analysis. Amsterdam University Press, pp27- 44. ISBN 9789462986855 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvh4zj72.6
Roya, W. & Ngcobo, S. (2023). The role of information communication technologies on African indigenous knowledge systems: Folktales. International Journal of Research in Business and Social Science, 2147- 4478. https://doi.org/10.20525/ijrbs.v12i6.2662
Samuel, M. A. (2009). On becoming a teacher: Life history research and the force-field model of Teacher Development. In Dhunpath, R., and Samuel, M.A. (eds) Life history research - Epistemology, methodology and representation, pp.3-18. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789087908584
Singh, H. (2003). Building effective blended learning programs. Educational Technology, 43(6), 51-54
Sokhulu, L. H. (2020). Students’ experiences of using digital technologies to address their personal research needs during the COVID-19 lockdown. African Identities, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/14725843.2020.1801384 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14725843.2020.1801384
Srinuan, C., & Bohlin, E. (2011). Understanding the Digital Divide: A survey and ways forward. Innovative ICT Applications- Emerging Regulatory, Economic and Policy Issues. 22nd European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunication Society (ITS), Budapest, Hungary 18th -21st September.
Van Deursen, A. J., & Van Dijk, J. A. (2019). The first-level digital divide shifts from inequalities in physical access to inequalities in material access. New Media & Society, 21(2), 354–375. https://doi. org/10.1177/1461444818797082 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818797082
Van Dijk, J. A. G. M. (2012). The evolution of the digital divide: The digital divide turns inequality of skills and usage. Digital Enlightenment Yearbook. IOS Press. https://doi.org/10.3233/978-1-61499-057-4-57
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Makhulu Makumane, Tawanda W. Mataka, Walter Sengai, S. Ngcobo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
For all articles published in IJRBS, copyright is retained by the authors. Articles are licensed under an open access Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license, meaning that anyone may download and read the paper for free. In addition, the article may be reused and quoted provided that the original published version is cited. These conditions allow for maximum use and exposure of the work, while ensuring that the authors receive proper credit.