Across continents: A comparison of African and Australian academics' online preparedness

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.18820/2519593X/pie.v40.i1.3

Keywords:

Academic readiness, Digital capital, Transition, Work-life-balance, Online teaching

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted higher education across the globe, in particular the shift from face-to-face teaching and assessment, as well as interaction with students. In 2020, an online survey was distributed to African and Australian higher education academics to gather insights into academics’ transformation of educational practices during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular it focused on the effects on the quality of teaching, learning and assessment. The survey questions investigated the comparison of the use of teaching and assessment technologies prior to, and during the COVID-19 pandemic; academics’ experiences with the sudden shift to work from home (WFH) arrangements and quality assurance measures for digital technologies. The sample included 71 academics across 12 Australian universities/tertiary institutions and 278 academics across 21 African higher education institutions. This study identified that while many Australian academics had prior experience and training in online/blended delivery, African academics, despite not having formal training in digital pedagogy, rated themselves as more than average in their ability to adopt technology for the online environment, just as the Australian cohort had. The most effective online tools adopted during the crisis in the African region were Zoom and WhatsApp while in the Australian region the learning management system (LMS) was the most popular. The major factors that affected African and Australian students’ ability to engage online included lack of access to connectivity and devices, technological competency and emotional and social factors. The results suggest that the predominant challenges faced by students as reported by academics across both continents in the “forced” remote work environment other than general anxiety about COVID-19 were social isolation (Aguilera-Hermida, 2020), connectivity for their students and the lack of a balanced work life (Kotteeswari & Sharief, 2014; Oliveira et al., 2021). This study has implications on institutions’ readiness in terms of capacity building for academic staff, infrastructure and support during digital delivery of courses.

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Published

2022-03-04

How to Cite

Singh, U. G., Watson, R., & Nair, C. S. (2022). Across continents: A comparison of African and Australian academics’ online preparedness. Perspectives in Education, 40(1), 39-61. https://doi.org/10.18820/2519593X/pie.v40.i1.3