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Emerging perspectives and challenges for virtual collaborative learning in an institution of higher education: a case of Lesotho

Gloria Lihotetso Matee (Faculty of Health and Education, Botho University, Maseru, Lesotho and Department of Language and Social Education, National University of Lesotho, Maseru, Lesotho)
Nthabiseng Motlohi (Faculty of Health and Education, Botho University, Maseru, Lesotho)
Palesa Nkiwane (Faculty of Health and Education, Botho University, Maseru, Lesotho)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 14 January 2022

Issue publication date: 2 February 2023

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to investigate emerging perspectives and challenges which teaching staff and students in the Faculties of Business and Accounting, Health and Education as well as Computing encountered in using Virtual Collaborative Learning during their classes in one accredited institution of higher education in Maseru district Lesotho. Previously conducted studies reveal that although similar studies to the current one have been conducted in different countries across the globe, conducting them in another different country such as Lesotho and in a different context might provide new information.

Design/methodology/approach

The study draws on Lev Vygotsky’s social constructivism as the theoretical framework because it is relevant and appropriate. The study was buttressed by constructivism paradigm, qualitative design as well as a qualitative case study. A purposive sampling technique was used in this study. A sample of 35 students and 11 teaching staff from the 3 respective faculties were used as participants of the study. This qualitative case study was based on online questionnaires issued to the participants using emails for data collection. Data were generated based on the themes which emerged.

Findings

The findings of the study suggest that majority of students found Virtual Collaborative Learning helpful and a user-friendly tool. However, lack of resources, clear instructions from the teaching staff and cooperation, internet connectivity issues, as well as data expenses have been identified as stumbling blocks that discourage students’ satisfactory engagement in Virtual Collaborative Learning. The findings further revealed various strategies including encouraging students to cooperate, grading students’ participation on online platforms and consultations could be used to overcome the challenges encountered in using Virtual Collaborative Learning. For generalisability and understanding of the breadth of the students and teaching staff experiences and challenges of Virtual Collaborative Learning, the authors recommend further study to be conducted on a larger representative sample, using the established themes of the current study.

Research limitations/implications

Using face-to-face interviews and classroom observations for data collection would have been more suitable for a qualitative methodology. However, due to COVID-19 regulations that restrict contact and limit lessons on online platforms, an online questionnaire was used for data collection.

Originality/value

This research reveals emerging perspectives and challenges which are encountered by teaching staff and students while using Virtual Collaborative Learning in one institution of higher education in Maseru Lesotho.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to all the participants, colleagues and the management of Botho University, Maseru campus, for their contributions towards the success of this research, Mr John Batani for his IT expertise and outstanding support, and our families for their remarkable support.

Citation

Matee, G.L., Motlohi, N. and Nkiwane, P. (2023), "Emerging perspectives and challenges for virtual collaborative learning in an institution of higher education: a case of Lesotho", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 73-88. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITSE-06-2021-0110

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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