Strategies used to teach online in an EdTech low-resource environment during COVID-19: a qualitative case study of the university of Zambia.

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Mambwe, Elastus
Mwila, Kennedy
Lufungulo, Enala Sharon
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The University of Zambia
The traditional form of teaching in Zambian universities often involves on-site lectures being given to students, accompanied by physical tutorials. However, during the unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, universities have had to urgently transition toward online instruction in an EdTech lowresource environment. Two years into the transition, it is vital to highlight challenges and examine strategies lecturers use when teaching online lessons in an EdTech low-resource environment. The study is anchored on the interpretivist worldview. The researchers adopted a qualitative approach and specifically evoked a case study design. They purposefully sampled 21 participants from three faculties of the University of Zambia: the School of Education, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and the School of Health Science. The study attempted to answer four questions: (a) What online instructional devices and resources are available for lecturers? (b) How do lecturers describe the level of usage of online instructional resources across the curriculum? (c) What are lecturers’ perceptions and experiences of online instructional resources? (d) How do lecturers describe strategies used to mitigate the challenges of online instructional resources? Data were collected using an interview schedule, via face-to-face interviews, phone interviews, and WhatsApp. Results are presented in tables and figures as well as verbatim statements of the respondents. The researchers used Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step recursive thematic analysis to generate codes and the themes presented in the study. The findings of the study, though focused on Zambia, do rather easily reflect the situation and experience of other countries with similar characteristics. The study has established that lecturers in an EdTech low-resource environment are fully aware of the possible challenges online instruction offers. The results also demonstrate that lecturers have devised coping strategies that enable them to teach amidst the struggles of online teaching. These strategies are lectureroriented, lesson-oriented, resource-oriented, and student-oriented. Further, findings are that for online instruction to be successful in an EdTech lowresource environment, the following should be considered: lecturers’ desire to learn, availability of basic ICT devices, use of open educational resources (OER), the potential of the use of devices, and availability of internet connectivity. The study recommends that higher learning institutions must Electronic copy available at: 152 International Conference on Open and Innovative Education (ICOIE 2022) equitably provide the necessary EdTech devices, software and other tools to lecturers in order to enhance the online teaching experience. Where possible, external support—such as import duty exemptions or corporate sponsorships and donations—should be sought, to enable universities and colleges to facilitate learning. For further research, the study recommends an examination of lecturers’ awareness and use of various open educational resources for effective teaching, learning, and planning. This study provides important insights and mitigation measures for higher education institutions engaged in online instruction in EdTech low-resource environments, thereby helping to create a better online teaching and learning environment. The study further contributes to ongoing scholarship on strategies that can be used to improve the online teaching and learning experiences of higher education, providing the much-needed insight from Zambia and the Global South at large. Keywords: Strategies, EdTech low-resource environment, teaching, Universities, COVID-19
Information technology and Teaching , Online teaching--universities