Volume 18, No. 6, 2021

Abrupt Shift From Offline To Online: Exploring The Digital Divide In The Adoption Of Online Education During COVID-19

Sohaib Sultan, Assistant Professor , Saira Farooq Shah, Assistant Professor , Razia Rizve, Assistant Professor , Kiran saleem, Lecturer , Warda Sahar


The paper explores the digital divide in the adoption of online education during COVID-19 pandemic at middle level of public schools in Islamabad. In 2020, the closure of educational institutions due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic in Pakistan led to an unplanned shift from traditional learning to a setup that exclusively includes digital education and learning. This sudden change underlined the digital divide as a main barrier in online teaching and learning process. The authors investigated the digital divide with a variety of indicators to look for patterns (i.e., internet access, digital devices access and socio-economic barriers) and explored the different national characteristics that contribute to the level of IT connectivity. In this paper, we adopted the qualitative study. A purposive sampling technique was used to select the participants of the study. The sample for the semi-structured interviews consisted of 15 teachers and 30 students from public school and we also observed 4 online classes (via WhatsApp) consisting of 40-45 students each. Observations, focused group interviews and semi-structured interviews were conducted ethically with obtaining the prior permission from teachers at public school. A conceptual framework based on Van Dijk’ digital divide theory, was used to collect and analyze the data. It is concluded that the sudden change in learning amid the Corona virus crisis has posed a lot of digital challenges to the system as the majority of students do not have their own computer or internet access.

Pages: 6081-6095

Keywords: COVID-19, Online Classes, Digital Divide, Student’s Access.

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