Author ORCID Identifier

Nyarai Tunjera https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4305-0644

Agnes Chigona https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4293-8190


The 21st century coupled with the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic is indeed imposing new demands on teaching and learning. Higher education institutions affected extensively educational institutions are mandated with the responsibility of inclusiveness and preparing students for realities of the current and unknown future. There has been heightened attention to educational technologies to mitigate the COVID-19 instigated disruptions. To ensure inclusiveness during future pandemics, there is a need to pay attention to the forms of digital technologies that students have access to (e.g., mobile phones, laptops, as well as applications they are using) in their areas. The article reports the use of multiple applications platforms to circumvent digital divide and help accommodate students who were not able to access the conventional institutional learning management systems. Using a qualitative exploratory research method, the study used the Universal Design for Learning framework to guide the synchronous use of multiple applications. A total of 165 pre-service teachers participated and completed the Google form surveys and 20 volunteered to participate in a focus group discussion. Conversation analysis was used to study the participants' interaction. The results indicated that using multiple online platforms reduced the online learning barriers caused by connectivity challenges and lack of technology tools and resources. Pre-service teachers revealed that the use of multiple platform intervention enabled them to make choices on what works better and was cost effective for them. They further indicated that this further reduced their anxiety caused by feeling isolated and left behind. The researchers recommend educators to explore digital tools that students have and are comfortable to work with, bearing in mind the diverse background of students.

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Declaration Statement

We acknowledge the financial support from the South African National Research Fund