Original Research - Teaching and learning mathematics during the COVID-19

Reflecting on dilemmas in digital resource design as a response to COVID-19 for learners in under-resourced contexts

Pamela Vale, Mellony H. Graven
Pythagoras | Vol 42, No 1 | a599 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/pythagoras.v42i1.599 | © 2021 Pamela Vale, Mellony H. Graven | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 January 2021 | Published: 09 November 2021

About the author(s)

Pamela Vale, Department of Education, Faculty Education, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa
Mellony H. Graven, Department of Education, Faculty Education, Rhodes University, Makhanda, South Africa


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting school closures in South Africa necessitated a major shift in how to support learners’ ongoing mathematics learning. For 10 weeks learners were strictly confined to their homes with restrictions that prohibited seeing any person outside of their household. The only means to access learners and parents in their homes was to reimagine our South African Numeracy Chair Project work and transform it from predominantly face-to-face interventions to digital modalities. As a result, we initiated a project of digital resource development and distribution, particularly focused on our local community in the Eastern Cape. Twenty-two existing resources and 36 purpose-designed resources were shared via Facebook. Through in-depth post hoc reflection of the rapid digitalisation of our materials and ways of working we address these questions: (1) In relation to learners’ new ‘ecology of learning’ during lockdown what digital access modality and platforms were most fit-for-purpose in sharing mathematics learning resources? (2) What principles informed resource design and adaptation for digital distribution and use? (3) What dilemmas were confronted in making decisions about resource design and distribution?. These questions are answered through a document review and post hoc reflections on the noted dilemmas. We share some feedback received and discuss implications of our work and the dilemmas confronted for the provision of quality digital resources for supporting mathematics learning in historically disadvantaged and under-resourced communities in a post pandemic world.


South Africa; COVID-19; digital resources; task design; ecology of learning; under-resourced communities


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Crossref Citations

1. Special challenges in mathematics education in Sub Sahara Africa
Kakoma Luneta
Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences  vol: 48  first page: 101211  year: 2022  
doi: 10.1016/j.cobeha.2022.101211