Blended learning in higher education in Saudi Arabia: a study of Umm Al-Qura university

Almalki, A 2011, Blended learning in higher education in Saudi Arabia: a study of Umm Al-Qura university, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Education, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Blended learning in higher education in Saudi Arabia: a study of Umm Al-Qura university
Author(s) Almalki, A
Year 2011
Abstract Higher education came late to Saudi Arabia and the country is moving swiftly to adopt international standards in pedagogy, specifically in student-centred learning models. As part of these development programs, the internet is being introduced to add course flexibility for university instructors and their students. This is a form of blended learning, and this thesis explores the experiences and views of the instructors and students at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah regarding instructor websites used as a supplement to attendances at lectures and tutorials.

This research investigates instructor websites from different perspectives. Makkah hosts the Islamic Hajj every year, when the population can triple and for a month, transport is difficult. Further, women may not move freely alone in public, and education in Saudi Arabia is strictly segregated. A blended learning concept therefore has appeal, with its potential to both increase students’ interaction with the instructor and facilitate class communication. This study employs a mixed methods approach, interviewing instructors who used websites on the university portal, and surveying their students through questionnaires.

The findings of this study indicate that the instructor websites, although at various stages of development, provide better learning experiences, and improve class communication and interaction. Participant students reported that the websites were useful for communication and enhanced interaction with their instructors, and that they used the websites for course administration, and access to lecture and revision material. Female students reported greater approval of the websites than their male cohorts, preferred instructor websites’ content, and considered that the websites had a greater effect on their learning, communications and interactions.

As the instructors developed and maintained their websites, there was a linkage between the site content and benefits to curriculum delivery style. The findings are that instructors can use their lecture time effectively, conduct trial exams, and introduce other curriculum delivery options. The study concludes that instructor and students valued the accessibility and flexibility advantages of blended learning design.

The findings also identify resource factors that, given the pace of technological change, may be endemic and affect the adoption of blended learning at the university. Participants reported concerns regarding the university’s inadequate ICT infrastructure, resources, and technical support. Students added that there appeared to be a lack of commitment and reward for ICT use at the university.

The study concludes that blended learning in Saudi universities has the potential to improve the universities’ performances in terms of quality and efficiency. Blended learning is useful to increase communication and interaction between students and instructors, which in turn would result in better learning experiences. This is especially true in a gender-segregated society. A major conclusion is that the implementation of blended learning in Saudi higher education requires a radical shift in the educational system, including changes to policy, curriculum, infrastructure, and university culture. The development should involve instructors, students, and administrators.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Education
Keyword(s) Blended learning
interactions
communications
Higher Education in Saudi Arabia
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Created: Fri, 02 Mar 2012, 09:23:19 EST by Guy Aron
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