n South African Journal of Higher Education - Challenges of online education in a developing country : research in higher education

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



As institutions are gearing themselves for integrating Information Communications and Technology (ICT) in their instruction, a number of challenges come to light. The challenges are particularly prominent when the institution operates in a predominantly developing country. Academics question the rationale of making use of sophisticated technology when clients stand to be "disadvantaged" by the technology. Issues of access or the so-called information technology divide precipitate in profuse debates among academics and management of higher education institutions. A further complication in the debate arises when the delivery of instruction is through the "distance mode". Large distance education institutions such as the University of South Africa are engrossed in self-reflection to determine the parameters on which to base ICT instruction principles. A case study is presented of endeavours to forge ahead with online education given the constraints of the digital divide. The results of this case study indicate that digital divide considerations can undermine the provision of enhanced pedagogies in distance education programmes and thus contribute to non-development of individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds. Consequently, it is proposed that online education should be incorporated in distance education programmes should the need arise, in part to address the digital divide and in part to enhance learning.

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