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Academic support under COVID-19 lockdown: what students think of online support e-tools in an ODeL course

Micheal M. van Wyk (Department of Curriculum and Instructional Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Article publication date: 4 December 2020

Issue publication date: 22 September 2021




This paper aims to explore student teachers’ views related to the online academic support e-tools used under the COVID-19 lockdown.


Mapping a pragmatic research approach, an explanatory mixed methods design was used for the study.


Empirical evidence revealed that student teachers were satisfied and experienced the academic support tools as being positively applied to their online learning. Furthermore, it is reported that student teachers preferred the discussion forum as the most appropriate academic support e-tool in the course under coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

Research limitations/implications

This exploratory pragmatic study extends the knowledge of the online academic support e-tools for an open distance e-learning (ODeL) context that was used under COVID-19 lockdown. This study provides additional evidence concerning a revised academic support frame for an ODeL online learning context. Research limitations: small sample size was used, and therefore caution must be applied, as the findings might not be transferable to a similar context. The current study has only examined a teacher education course and could not be generalised to similar conditions as those under COVID-19 lockdown. This exploratory research has raised many questions that require further investigation. More research is required to determine the efficacy of the academic support e-tools with regard to student learning in other online courses and contexts.

Practical implications

The student teachers that participated in this study were empowered to using the academic support e-tools to support them under COVID-19 lockdown. The discussion was mostly preferred academic supportive e-tool as an engaged, participatory and communicative platform for accelerated learning in the teaching methodology of economics course.


A noteworthy contribution was made in the design and testing of the reliability of methodological tools, which could be replicated in blended and ODeL contexts.



The author expresses his gratitude toward the peer reviewers and the guest editors of the Special Issue of this journal for constructive suggestions to strengthen this paper. Acknowledgment is given to the National Research Foundation for grant funding (Grant ID # 113615). Furthermore, acknowledgment is given to the economics student teachers who voluntarily participated in this research study. The quality of language revision work done by the University’s Language Services is highly appreciated. Finally, any opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not reflect the views of the Department.


van Wyk, M.M. (2021), "Academic support under COVID-19 lockdown: what students think of online support e-tools in an ODeL course", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 137-157.



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