Purpose: While there is broad consensus about the importance of e-learning technologies to successful teaching and learning, many youths in Higher Education, especially in developing countries are struggling with e-learning. The purpose of this paper is to identify the challenges associated with the transition into digital learning by Higher Education Institutions in South Africa and the possibilities that such transition offers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) era.
Method: The paper is an exploration of publicly available data and literature about the adoption and implementation of digital learning in South Africa’s historically disadvantaged higher education institutions.
Findings: The review of the literature revealed that many higher education institutions (HEIs) in developing countries are yet to have a full grasp of digital learning and students in such institutions seem to be struggling with this new normal. Now that the world battles to recover from the socio-economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, the higher education sector in Africa is expected to rethink how teaching and learning are delivered to comply with the new normal brought by COVID-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Recommendation: There is an urgent need for Open and Distance Learning (ODL) based institutions with already developed e-learning policies to partner with the conventional universities towards developing policies, programmes and practices that are 4IR compliant.
Key Words: Fourth Industrial Revolution, COVID-19, digital learning, e-learning, open and distance learning, new normal.