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Learning during COVID-19: exploring students' experiences of studying social work through blended learning at a university in Durban.

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The social work program is a professional program that offers students a unique skill set to address real-world socio-cultural issues. The coronavirus disease raised much skepticism among educators and students alike about whether social work can be effectively taught through blended learning. This study aims to explore the experiences of social work students taking the program through this approach to learning. Additionally, the purpose of the study is to identify the opportunities and challenges presented by blended learning and the strategies students employed to adapt to it. It seeks to draw attention to the students’ perceptions of the social work skills and knowledge acquired through a blend of synchronous and asynchronous approaches to learning. The data for this study was collected through semistructured virtual interviews with 15 undergraduate social work students from a university in Durban, South Africa. The findings illuminate the barriers to learning created by the use of blended learning in social work programs, which include poor access to technology, structural challenges, and poor adjustment and mental health challenges. Students’ resilience and adaptive behaviour were evident in students’ narratives. The findings further demonstrated that the role of lecturers was as critical in supporting the students’ development and acquisition of social work knowledge and skills by taking a more active role in blended teaching and learning. It is recommended that further research focus on equipping lecturers with blended learning design competencies.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.