The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent emergency measures had a fundamental and disruptive impact on societies and, in particular, on the educational sector. The transition of the modality of educational delivery from face-to-face to online occurred within days; this research study considered the concepts of digital trust and digital access, using structuration, postmodernism, and critical social theory as lenses to understand Higher Education (HE) student experiences during the first wave of the lockdown. The study compared these aspects in Hungary, South Africa, and Wales (UK) with different digital and network readiness indices. The digital development of the countries is presented using both the Digital Intelligence and Network Readiness indices. The research approach was cross-country, international, comparative, inductive, and quantitative. The research study found that there was a significant relationship between the countries’ GDP and their network readiness, impacting students’ online learning experiences. Significant differences were found between the participating universities in terms of digital access and digital trust; this research provides valuable insights for informing future pedagogical approaches and teaching best practice, specifically for residential universities. Understanding challenges and barriers to student learning experiences, and the impact of inequitable access to digital technologies and communication, is key for future pedagogical policy and practice. Several recommendations are made to inform practice.


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Venter, I., Cranfield, D., Tick, A., Blignaut, R. & Renaud, K. 2022, '‘Lockdown': digital and emergency eLearning technologies - a student perspective', Electronics, 11(18), article no: 2941. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics11182941

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Last updated: 23 June 2023
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