Challenges of Teaching and Learning under Lockdown at Wits University: Implications for the Future of Blended Learning




Covid-19, teaching and learning, wellbeing, higher education, blended learning, South Africa


In response to social distancing regulations of 2020 aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, universities had to rapidly transition from face-to-face learning to Emergency Remote Teaching and Learning (ERTL). University students and staff faced many barriers to reliably accessing online platforms, together with widespread psychosocial challenges associated with the pandemic. This article reports on these challenges, juxtaposing the experiences of university staff members and students at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits). This study used a mixed methods design and drew on two university-wide surveys for staff and one for students, followed by in-depth interviews (IDIs) and focus group discussions (FGDs). Of those invited, 9% of the student body and 7% of staff responded, with 43 students and 22 staff members participating in the interviews and discussions. Three overarching challenges emerged for both staff and students: 1) physical limitations, including poor access to reliable internet, compounded by persistent power outages; 2) pedagogicalchallenges as staff and students adjusted to a new learning modality; and 3) balancing aspects of personal life and wellbeing with work and studies, including remaining productive while contending with family responsibilities and emotional challenges brought about by the pandemic. The study highlights several issues, including structural considerations and the importance of promoting a sense of community and belonging, that should be considered as the University transitions to blended learning.


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How to Cite

Wagner, Fezile, Mxolisi Masango, Shirra Moch, Greig Krull, Ryan G. Wagner, Laura Dison, and Diane Grayson. “Challenges of Teaching and Learning under Lockdown at Wits University: Implications for the Future of Blended Learning”. Progressio, 18 pages.



Themed Section 1
Received 2023-07-31
Accepted 2024-03-20
Published 2024-04-24