Dr. Motsomi N. Marobela
University of Botswana, Department of Management
Purpose: This paper is inspired by the emergence of COVID-19 and how it has profoundly changed the delivery of education and ushered in an online revolution in higher education. Like other institutions of higher learning, the University of Botswana was also affected by the normal. This paper explores issues around the embracement and implementation of online learning and the challenges faced in trying to adapt to change.
Methodology: Using critical realism as an underlying paradigm, the contextual background is given and a sociotechnical conceptual framework helps to appreciate the interrelations of the organisational system and the dynamics of dealing with turbulent change. A case study methodology is applied to explore the unique features.
Findings: Over the years, the University of Botswana has laid a solid foundation for online learning by adapting new technologies, which were mainly meant for traditional physical teaching. The advent of COVID-19 found the university unprepared to cope with the drastic disruptions. Some progress is being made as training of faculty has been accelerated and new digital tools are being used to facilitate online learning. However, staff motivation and requisite resources are lacking, yet these are critical drivers for the successful implementation of online learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major devastating effect on humanity and changed norms in ways never imagined nor experienced. Even as we move forward with the hope that, sooner rather than later, a vaccine will be found to heal the world, there is still a lingering cloud of uncertainty. The new normal, however, remains overshadowed by the old normal. The impact of the global economic crisis accentuated by the pandemic is felt across the political, institutional and digital spectrum, not least in education, where its disruptive knock has paralysed learning. This paper provides insight into the embracement and implementation of online blended learning at the University of Botswana in the wake of COVID-19. The current state of university readiness and adaptability is assessed, together with an analysis of challenges and a diagnosis of leadership response and role in managing technological change in uncertain times.
Key words: New Normal, Online Learning, University of Botswana, Critical Realism, Sociotechnical.
Citation: Marobela, M. (2021): The Dynamics of social and technological change: COVID-19 and online learning at the University of Botswana. International Journal of Innovation and Knowledge Management in Middle East and North Africa, Vol. 9, Nos. 1/2, pp. 45-62.