With the outbreak of Covid-19 worldwide, schools have been shut down and students are forced to learn from home. This spontaneous solution has been easily adopted by first world countries however in South Africa, it will be impossible to implement which will see South African students going for several weeks at home without attending classes, which will result in a lot of pressure for both teachers and students trying to catch up with school work once schools reopen after the pandemic.
Distance learning works in countries with good infrastructure and are technologically advanced with a working internet, students and teachers need to have devices, however devices without classroom management software will not work. Classroom management software is the digitalised traditional classroom management which refers to a wide variety of skills and techniques that teachers use to ensure that their classroom runs smoothly, without disruptive behaviour from students. Classroom management software has to be installed in all e-learning devices resulting in a highly organised e-learning classroom. Good classroom management (software) produces an academically productive classroom with focused, attentive, and on-task students.
Classroom Management software facilitates the smooth flowing of an e-classroom. The teacher loads a lesson, students access the lesson online and interact with both their teacher and other students, while the teacher monitors their work, class activities are shared in real-time. Teachers can check attendance, schoolwork is submitted online, teachers mark work and share it back with their students, class schedules are available and late comers(late logins) are detected. Effective classroom management software is an absolute must when it comes to efficient e-learning.
Unfortunately, South Africa has not transformed the education system yet to accommodate pandemics like the Covid-19. Only 17.3% households in metropolitan areas and 1.7% in rural areas in South Africa have access to the internet according to Stats SA 2019 report. Less than 5% of South Africa students have their own devices and 25% of South African students have access to a computer at school or at home. “Only 26% of teachers have basic ICT skills, and only 7% have intermediate skills in using ICTs for teaching and learning,” according to the department of basic education, Michael Goodman. Digital education requires adequately trained teachers, students with devices and internet connection.
The implementation of distance learning in South Africa with the coronavirus still spreading is inevitable, however due to a lot of structural and infrastructural challenges distance learning might happen in a different and conservative way. At this very moment South Africa cannot support 21st century distance learning. A total transformation of the education system has to take place before the country can implement and execute distance learning effectively.