While literature reveals the positive perception of online learning, this study examines the issues caused by the digital divide for students at South African universities during the 2020 academic year. The study reveals the perceptions and experiences of university students from historically marginalised and privileged universities. This research ventures into relatively unexplored territory by examining the digital divide in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and radical shift to online learning. Using netnography, 678 tweets were analysed using qualitative content analysis and the concept of “digital divide,” “online learning” and “student voice.” We argue that digital media in the digital divide suffuses socio-economic relationships between university students and management. The study provides insights into the role of 4IR, the technological, digital inequalities, environmental, situational and institutional barriers/disparities students faced during remote learning and assessment. Results reveal, online learning did not increase the accessibility of university education during the pandemic for students attending marginalised universities. Network coverage, device type, time of day, socio-economic status and digital competence negatively affect synchronous lecture participation and attendance. More inclusive and flexible pedagogy based on a university’s resources and student profile is needed to mitigate digital and educational inequalities affecting students from rural and/ low-income households.
|Publication Date||October 1, 2021|
|Application Date||November 10, 2020|
|Published in Issue||Year 2021, Volume 22, Issue 4|