The use of an online learning platform: A step towards e-learning

Keywords: Coronavirus, e-learning, online learning platform, pedagogy


In South Africa for the last few years, the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) have experienced unforeseen events that have eventually led to universities’ suspension of academic activities. This has financial implications and leads to the extension of the academic calendar. This article looks at using an online learning platform to respond to unforeseen circumstances and beyond this, a shift to the new mode of university service delivery. The article presents the collective perspective of selected students of the School of Governance at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

This quantitative study used a census approach of collecting data from the defined population. A total of 212 questionnaires were distributed to students, of which 107 were completed and returned.

E-learning is currently a common topic of conversation and will continue to be so in the wake of the current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. This study suggests that there is a need to improve students’ experiences of using online learning platforms and doing online assessments to roll out online teaching and learning successfully. The results also suggest that the facilitators need to rethink their teaching pedagogy in the process of shifting to e-learning.

Author Biographies

Pfano Mashau, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Dr. Pfano Mashau is currently the academic in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership at the University of KwaZulu-Nat. He is teaching at postgraduate levels. His research interests focus on creativity and innovation, business environments, Agglomeration economies, Innovation, Local Economic Development, entrepreneurship and research.



  • Management

Highest received qualification

  • Master of Commerce

Discipline or field in which the highest qualification was received

  • Local Economic Development

Name of university the highest qualification was received

  • University of KwaZulu-Natal

Areas you are a strong advocate

  • Local Economic Development
  • Informal Economy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Business innovation

Research interests

  • Agglomeration Economies
  • Technology Entrepreneurship
  • Triple Helix
  • Innovation 
Jabulani Nyawo, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Discipline of Public Governance, Lecturer


Al-khalifa, H. 2010. “From e-learning management systems to personal learning environments.” Journal of the Arabian Gulf message 3(2): 15‒29.

Al-Rifaee, A. J. F. 2018. “The reality of the use of the University of Jordan’s students of the Moodle System in the process of learning and instruction from their perspectives.” International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning 15(4-5-6): 1‒74.

Alruwais, N., G. Wills, and M. Wald. 2018. “Advantages and Challenges of Using e-Assessment.” International Journal of Information and Education Technology 8(1): 34‒37.

Al-zabun, M. 2015. “The Effect of Teaching on the Use of Electronic Courses in the Achievement of Jordanian University Students in Computer Skills and in the Development of their Self-Learning and Social Communication Skills.” Unpublished Dissertation, University of Jordan: Amman, Jordan.

Bagarukayo, E. and B. Kalemo. 2015. “Evaluation of e-learning usage in South African universities: A critical review.” International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology 11(2): 168‒183.

Baleni, Z. 2015. “Online formative assessment in higher education: Its pros and cons.” The Electronic Journal of e-learning 13(4): 228‒236.

Brown, C. 2012. “University students as digital migrants.” Mobility, Language, Language and Literacy 14(2): 41‒61.

Crews, T. B. and D. F. Curtis. 2010. “Online course evaluations: Faculty perspective and strategies for improved response rates.” Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 36(7): 965–878.

Department of Higher Education and Training. 2013. White Paper for Post-School Education & Training: Building an expanded, effective ad integrated post-school system. Government Gazette. Pretoria.

Department of Higher Education and Training. 2014. Policy for the Provision of Distance Education in South African Universities: In the context of an integrated post-school system. Government Gazette. Pretoria.

Department of Higher Education Training. 2018. DHET: Research, Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation. DHET%20Stats%20Report_04%20April%202018.pdf.

DHET see Department of Higher Education and Training.

Dobrzaski, L. A., Z. Brytan, and F. Brom. 2007. “Use of e-learning in teaching Fundamentals of Materials Science.” Journal of Achievements in Materials and Manufacturing Engineering 24(2): 215‒218.

Donovan, J., C. Mader, and J. Shinsky. 2007. “Online vs. traditional course evaluation formats: Student perceptions.” Journal of Interactive Online Learning 6: 158–180.

Eljinini, M., S. Alsamarai, S. Hameed, and A. Amawi. 2012. “The Impact of E-assessments System on the Success of the Implementation Process.” International Journal of Modern Education and Computer Science 11: 76‒84.

Gedik, N. and E. Kiraz. 2012. “The optimum blend: affordances and challenges of blended learning for students.” Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry 3(3): 102‒117.

Gikandi, J. W., D. Morrow, and N. E. Davis. 2011. “Online formative assessment in higher education: A review of the literature.” Computers & Education 57(2011): 2333–2351.

Gilbert, L., D. Whitelock, and V. Gale. 2011. Synthesis report on assessment and feedback with technology enhancement. 2520assessment%2520and%2520feedback%2520Final%2520Report%2520July%25202011.pdf.

Gorghiu, G., L. M. Gorghiu, A. M. Suduc, M. Bîzoi, C. Dumitrescu, and R. L. Olteanu. 2009. “Related aspects to the pedagogical use of virtual experiments.” Research, Reflections and Innovations in integrating ICT in education, 2, FORMATEX, 809‒813.

Hargittai, E. 2010. Digital na(t)ives? “Variation in internet skills and uses among members of the ‘Net Generation’.” Sociological Inquiry 80(1): 92–113.

Isabirye, A. K. and N. Dlodlo. 2014. “Perceived Inhibitors of Innovative E-learning Teaching Practice at a South African University of Technology.” Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 5: 390‒398.

Jordaan, A., and A. van der Merwe 2015. “Best practices for learning analytics initiatives in higher education.”

Kauffman, H. 2015. “A review of predictive factors of student success in and satisfaction with online learning.” Research in Learning Technology 23: 26507

Kennedy, G., T. Judd, B. Dalgarno, and J. Waycott. 2010. Beyond natives and immigrants: Exploring types of net generation students. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning 26(5): 332–343.

Kilfoil, W. R. 2015. Moving beyond the hype: A contextualised view of learning with technology in higher education. Pretoria: Universities South Africa.

Kreber, C. and H. Kanuka. 2006. “The scholarship of teaching and learning and the online classroom.” Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education 32(2): 109–131.

Kuriakose, R. B. and N. Luwes. 2016. “Student Perceptions to the Use of Paperless Technology in Assessments – A Case Study using Clickers.” Procedia ‒ Social and Behavioral Sciences 228: 78–85.

Mashau, P. 2017. “Learning Technology in a Postgraduate Class in South Africa: Experiences and Learnings at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, GSBL.” International Journal of Educational Sciences 18(1‒3): 65‒72.

Mashau, P., Z. Fields, and J. C. Nyawo. 2019. “Evaluation of South African universities’ collaborations as drivers of entrepreneurship.” African Renaissance 16(1): 139‒165.

Mishra, P. and M. J. Koehler. 2006. “Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge.” Teachers College Record 108(6): 1017–1054.

Mlitwa, W. and J. W. G. D. Van Belle. 2011. “Mediators for lecturer perspectives on learning management systems at universities in the Western Cape, South Africa.” In Proceedings of the Pacific Asia Conference on Information Systems (PACIS 2011). Brisbane, Australia. Brisbane: A.I.S. Electronic Library.

Ng’ambi, D., V. Bozalek and D. Gachago. 2013. Empowering educators to teach using emerging technologies in higher education – a case of facilitating a course across institutional boundaries. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on e-learning. Cape Peninsula University of Technology, 27–28 June 2013.

Nyawo, J. C. 2021. “Comparison of Undergraduate Students’ Perception of Tutorials Before and During the COVID-19: A Case of the University of Kwazulu-Natal in the Discipline of Public Governance.” International Journal of Higher Education 10(2): 217– 228.

OERAfrica. 2014. Case studies: delivering eLearning in South Africa. http://www.oerafrica. org/supporting-distance-learners/case-studies-delivering-elearning-south-africa.

Pachler, N., C. Daly, Y. Mor, and H. Mellar. 2010. “Formative e-assessment: Practitioner cases.” Computers & Education 54: 715–721.

Padayachee, P., S. Wagner-Welsh, and H. Johannes. 2018. “Online assessment in Moodle: A framework for supporting our students.” South African Journal of Higher Education 32(5): 211‒235.

Ridgway, J., S. McCusker, and D. Pead. 2004. Literature review of e-assessment. Bristol.

Rooney, J. E. 2003. “Blending learning opportunities to enhance educational programming and meetings.” Association Management 55(5): 26‒32.

Ruxwana, N. and M. Msibi. 2018. “A South African university’s readiness assessment for bringing your own device for teaching and learning.” South African Journal of Information Management 20(1): 1‒16.

Spivey, M. F. and J. J. McMillan. 2014. “Classroom versus Online Assessment.” Journal of Education for Business 89(8): 450‒456.

Statistics South Africa. 2011. “Census 2011.” P030142011.pdf.

Statistics South Africa. 2019. “Sustainable development goals.” Page_id=739&id =5.

StatsSA see Statistics South Africa.

Ting-Sheng Weng,T. S. and H. C. Lin. 2007. “The Study of E-learning for Geographic Information Curriculum in Higher Education.” Applied Computer Science (ei): 618‒623.

Tilghman, S. B. 2011. Designing and developing online course assessments. Review of Higher Education and Self-learning 4(9): 31‒34.

Van de Heyde, V. and A. Siebrits. 2019. “The ecosystem of e-learning model for higher education.” South African Journal of Science 115(5/6): 1‒6.

Venter P. M. J. van Rensburg and A. Davis. 2012. Drivers of learning management system use in a South African open and distance learning institution. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology 28(2):183‒198.

Wankle, C. (Ed.). 2011. Teaching arts and science with new social media. New York: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Way, A. 2012. “The use of e-assessments in the Nigerian higher education system.” Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education 13(1): 140–152.

Weaver, D., C. Spratt, and C. S. Nair. 2008. “Academic and student use of a learning management system: Implications for quality.” Australian Journal of Educational Technology 24(1): 30‒41.

Xing, B. and T. Marwala. 2017. “Implications of the fourth industrial age for higher education.” The Thinker Issue 73(3): 10‒15.

Zuckweiler, K. M. 2012. “Using technologies to enhance student learning in the online classroom.” Decision Line: Decision Sciences Institute 43: 6–8.

How to Cite
Mashau, Pfano, and Jabulani Nyawo. 2021. “The Use of an Online Learning Platform: A Step towards E-Learning”. South African Journal of Higher Education 35 (2), 123-43.
General Articles