Technological influence in changing the higher education environment: Developmental & transformative potential, and challenges for the African context

  • Daniel Maposa Department of Statistics and Operations Research, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga, South Africa
Keywords: Digital world, Higher Education, Technology, Blended learning, Virtual learning, Challenges, Opportunities


This study provides a reflection on how technology is changing the higher education (HE) curricula and environment, its developmental and transformative potential, and challenges for the South African and/or African context, as well as the need for re-designing the curricula in line with new technologies in HE in these challenging times of the coronavirus of 2019 (COVID-19). In particular, the HE case study in this paper will be constrained to a certain HE institution although it can be generalised to other HE institutions curricula in South Africa and other African countries, particularly, in the fields of mathematics and statistics. Some knowledge paradigms and learning theories are provided in this study, as well as a reflection on re-designing of the HE curriculum as influenced by ICT. The study provides a discussion on blended learning HE curriculum design which involves both face-to-face and digital technology (online learning) as modes of delivery. The study further discusses the challenges and opportunities of incorporating digital technology in the HE mathematical statistics curriculum design. The study culminates with an application of connectivism to the mediation of the HE curriculum.


Agrawal, A. K., and Mittal, G. K. (2018). The role of ICT in higher education for the 21st century: ICT as a change agent for education. Multidisciplinary Higher Education, Research, Dynamics & Concepts: Opportunities & Challenges For Sustainable Development (ISBN 978-93-87662-12- 4), 1(1), 76-83.

Au, O.T-S, Li, K. and Wong, T.M. (2018). Student persistence in open and distance learning: success factors and challenges. Asian Association of Open Universities Journal, 13(2), 191–202.

Awodeyi, A.F., Akpan, E.T. and Udo, I/J. (2014). Enhancing teaching and learning of mathematics: adoption of blended learning pedagogy in University of Uyo. International Journal of Sciences and Research (IJSR), 3 (11), 40 – 45.

Baker, P.M.A., Bujak, K. R., and DeMillo, R. (2012). The evolving university: Disruptive Change and Institutional Innovation. Procedia Computer Science, 14, 330–335.

Blewett, C. (2016). From traditional pedagogy to digital pedagogy: Paradoxes, afffordances and approaches. In Samuel M, Dhunpath R & Amin N 2016. (eds.) Disrupting higher education curriculum: Undoing cognitive damage. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, Netherlands, pp 265-290.

Chernikova, I. A., and Varonis, E. M. (2016). Designing and delivering online curriculum in higher education: riding the perfect storm. The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology, 33(3), 132–141.

Choppin, J., and Borys, Z. (2017). Trends in the design, development, and use of digital curriculum materials. ZDM-Springer, 49(5), 663–674.

Chunk, D.H. (2012). Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. 6th Edition, Pearson Education, Inc., Boston.

Cloete, A. L. (2017). Technology and education: Challenges and opportunities. HTS Theological Studies, 73(4), 1-7.

Danker, B. (2015). Using flipped classroom approach to explore deep learning in large classrooms. The LAFOR Journal of Education, 3 (1).

Delcore, H. D., and Neufeld, P. (2017). Student technology rollouts in higher education: lessons from DISCOVERe. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 49(1-2), 43-54. doi:10.1080/15391523.2017.1293575.

DeMillo, R.A. (2012). Viewpoint: Keeping Technology Promises. Communications of the ACM 55. Business Source Complete, 11, 37-39.

Englund, C., Olofsson, A. D., and Price, L. (2017). Teaching with technology in higher education: understanding conceptual change and development in practice. Higher Education Research & Development, 36(1), 73-87.

Garcia-Huidobro, J. C. (2018). Addressing the crisis in curriculum studies: curriculum integration that bridges issues of identity and knowledge. The Curriculum Journal, 29(1), 25–42.

Goode, C. A., Hegarty, B., and Levy, C. (2018). Collaborative curriculum design and the impact on organisational culture. Techtrends: Linking research and practice to improve learning. Association for Educational Communications & Technology, 62(4), 393–402.

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., and Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: a critical review and suggestions for its use. Techtrends: Linking research and practice to improve learning. Association for Educational Communications & Technology, 60(5), 433–441.

Han, L. (2020) Hybrid teaching at a time of emergency and afterwards Accessed 17 October 2021.

Hoogland, K., and Tout, D. (2018). Computer-based assessment of mathematics into the twenty-first century: pressures and tensions. ZDM: Mathematics Education, 50(4), 675–686.

Khalil, M. K., and Elkhider, I. A. (2016). Applying learning theories and instructional design models for effective instruction. Advances in Physiology Education, 40(2), 147–56.

Koehler, M., Mishra, P., Kereluik, K., Shin, T., and Graham, C. R. (2014). The technological pedagogical content knowledge framework. In J. M. Spector, M. D.Merrill, J. Elen, & M. J. Bishop (Eds.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (pp. 101–111). New York: Springer.

Lin, Y-W., Tseng, C-L., and Chiang, P-J. (2017). The effects of blended learning in mathematics course. EURASIA Journal of Mathematics Science and Technology Education. DOI10.12973.eurasia.2017.00641a.

Mayes, R., Natividad, G., and Spector, J. (2015). Challenges for educational technologists in the 21st century. Education Sciences, 5(3), 221-237.

McKnight, K., O’Malley, K., Ruzic, R., Horsley, M.K, Franey, J.J. and Bassett, K. (2016). Teaching in a digital age: How educators use technology to improve student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 48(3), 194-211, doi:10.1080/1539.2016.1175856.

Mirzajani, H., Mahmud, R., Fauzi Mohd Ayub, A., and Wong, S. L. (2016). Teachers’ acceptance of ICT and its integration in the classroom. Quality Assurance in Education, 24(1), 26–40.

Moreira, F., Ferreira Maria João, Pereira, C. S., Gomes, A. S., Collazos, C., and Escudero, D. F. (2019). Eclectic as a learning ecosystem for higher education disruption. Universal Access in the Information Society: International Journal, 18(3), 615–631.

Naidu, E. (2020). Concerned academics call for halt to online learning University World News. The Global Window on Higher Education. Accessed 17 October 2021.

Nomazulu, N. (2018). Ethical dilemmas in qualitative research methodology: researcher’s reflections. International Journal of Educational Methodology, 4(1), 19–28.

Nortvedt, G. A., and Buchholtz, N. (2018). Assessment in mathematics education: responding to issues regarding methodology, policy, and equity. ZDM: Mathematics Education, 50(4), 555–570.

Pannen, P. (2014). Integrating technology in teaching and learning mathematics. In Electronic Proceedings of the 19th Asian Technology Conference in Mathematics, Yogyakarta: Indonesia.

Puentedura, R. (2006). Transformation, technology, and education [Blog post]. Accessed 18 October 2021 from

Serrano, D. R., Dea-Ayuela, M. A., Gonzalez-Burgos, E., Serrano-Gil, A., and Lalatsa, A. (2019). Technology-enhanced learning in higher education: how to enhance student engagement through blended learning. European Journal of Education, 54(2), 273–286.

Şeşen, B.A., Kırbaşlar, F.G. and Avcı, F. (2019). Instructional curriculum based on cooperative learning related to the structure of matter and its properties: learning achievement, motivation and attitude. South African Journal of Education, 39(3), 1–14.

Shawa, L.B. (2019). Advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning using learning theories and reflectivity. C.E.P.S Journal. doi:10.26529/cepsj.298.

Stewart, M. (2012). Understanding learning: theories and critique. In: Hunt, L. and Chalmers, D. (eds), University teaching in focus: a learning-centred approach. Routledge, London.

Themane, M. J. (2011). Understanding curriculum: a challenge to curriculum development in teacher education programmes. South African Journal of Higher Education, 25(8), 1639–1651.

Tshuma, N. (2016). Teaching and Learning with Technology: Reframing traditional understandings and practices. South Africa: WordFoto.

Van Putten, S., Botha, H., Mofolo-Mbokkane, B., Stols, G. and Mwambakana, P. (2014). The culture-rich mathematics class: Maximising learning opportunities. In Vandeyar, S. (ed.), Good practice in culture-rich classrooms: Research-informed perspectives (pp. 83 – 100). Oxford University Press, Cape Town.

Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Zikhali, J., and Bokana, K.G. (2014). Critical reflections on management studies’ access initiative. In R. D. Dhunpath & R. Vithal (Eds.), Alternative access to higher education: Underprepared students or underprepared institutions? (pp.149-165). Cape Town: Pearson Education.