THE USE OF ONLINE DISCUSSION FORUM IN TEACHING AND LEARNING OF ENGLISH FIRST ADDITIONAL LANGUAGE IN SOUTH AFRICAN HIGHER EDUCATION
The study investigated preservice teachers’ experiences in using online discussion forum in teaching and learning in a South African Higher Education Institution as a new method of teaching to maintain the continuity of education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research population of this study included ten fourth-year preservice teachers between the ages of 18 to 25 registered for a Bachelor of Education in Senior Phase and FET degree majoring in English and Life Orientation in the School of Education at a South African rural university and data was collected through semi-structured interviews. The findings of this study suggest that online discussion forum leads to positive student performance outcomes and facilitates active learning, shared knowledge, and promote social interaction and a supportive eLearning community. The findings of this study show that online discussion forum enhances preservice teachers’ positive attitude, a capacity for reflection, and a readiness to be proactive in self-management and in interaction with others which lead to student autonomy. However, the study shows that preservice teachers experience challenges of not opening up in the discussion and intimidated by other students who posted better than their own which resulted in limited discussion and non-substantive posts. This study recommends future mixed-methods research that will explore student-teacher perceptions on online discussion forum in teaching and learning of English First Additional Language in Higher Education Institution.