A self-study of pedagogical experiences in History Education at a university during the COVID-19 pandemic
Iyer, Leevina M.
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Educational transformation is an ongoing process. However, in 2020 the transformation in South Africa was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This global health threat was inadvertently a catalyst for considerable change within the field of education. Considering that the nature of COVID-19 was infectious, the best mode of delivery for education to students during the pandemic was digital platforms. For the History Education department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), this was a significant transition from the conventional contact methods. While digital platforms were used under normal conditions to complement contact lectures, the transition meant that all teaching was completely dependent on digital platforms. Navigating this change was both interesting and challenging for me as a teacher and supervisor of History Education. This paper is a self-study of my experiences of engaging with online History Education at postgraduate and undergraduate levels within Higher Education. History Education modules had to be re-engineered, and pedagogical considerations had to be explored to align with the use of digital software. The online transition was not seamless and was accompanied by challenges that ranged from technological inaccessibility and teacher training for online education to academic disparities. At the onset of the transition, technology proved to exacerbate existing geo-social and educational inequalities within the learning community at the UKZN’s History Education department. It undeniably took a considerable amount of time to acclimatise to the new digital platforms for online education. Eventually, there were visible successes. For instance, new online pedagogies proved effective in traversing History Education modules via online education. Training in the use of software and applications was also useful in achieving the learning objectives of History Education modules. Online resources, such as multimedia, were easier to incorporate into History Education lectures. This provided an integrative shift between theory and real-life experiences. Arguably, the COVID-19 pandemic served as a catalyst for embracing digital platforms, which we, as educationalists, may not have otherwise implemented were it not a necessity.