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Understanding the impact of the digital divide and new methods of learning on humanities students at UKZN during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Typically, the digital divide refers to the separation between those who have access to digital information and communications technology (ICT) and those who do not (Dewan & Riggins, 2005). However, more recently, scholars and thought-leaders have acknowledged that the concept is multifaceted and should consider various socio-political factors, as well as economic ones. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) is home to a diverse range of students of different genders, ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and racial backgrounds. The use of digital technology plays a huge role in the academic processes for students at UKZN. It is imperative that all students have access to, and are familiar with, digital technology to successfully complete their academic tasks. This became even more important in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, which made it necessary for most teaching and learning to be done virtually with the use of digital technology. However, just like in most communities, there is a gap between the availability of digital platforms and students’ access, and their cognitive ability to use these platforms. This research explores the experiences of UKZN Humanities students as they navigated their new level of dependency on digital technology for learning during the Coronavirus pandemic. It highlights how the digital divide has impacted their use of digital technology while learning virtually, their peculiar experiences and actions taken due to virtual learning, as well as how they compare virtual learning to contact learning.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.