The usage of Internet in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia commenced in the late 1990s. The Internet entered slowly the Islamic countries since it was considered a gateway to immoral materials and improper texts for the youth. The first adopters of the new technology were the universities which benefited from the access to the world network for educational purposes…
The new technologies provide the unique possibility for e-learning as part of the active educational process. The higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia can use the e-learning resources to improve the quality of the delivered education. Collaborative e-learning has the advantage of being flexible for the learners and the tutor. It is also highly valuable for group work since there is the need of class discussions which can be done in online form. In this way, the members of the group would have enough time to rethink their position without the social pressure of the face to face contact (Flexible Learning Website).
Another aspect worth mentioning is the ability of the student to set the pace of the learning process. Thus the learner can realize the value of taking responsibility for his/her own improvement. In other words, e-learning trains the student to be proactive and take an essential part in the process of acquiring new skills. Different learning styles are also addressed by placing the emphasis on one's own pace of learning (Flexible Learning Website).
The benefits of e-learning can be experienced especially in Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia. According to the Koran a woman cannot be seen without her veil by males except for her closer relatives. The male professors might experience difficulties from religious essence while teaching to female students. Although direct teaching was used before 1990, it is no longer the case. The problem is deepened by the lack of female instructors in higher education ( Mirza, 2007; "Utilizing Distance Learning Technologies to Deliver Courses in a Segregated Educational Environment").
The most convenient way to address this problem is through e-learning. Technology might be put into practice in such cases. One example is the closed circuit television which is used by the instructor to deliver a lecture to female students who receive the information directly at the female campus. Another instance is the usage of telecommunications at the King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. "The program is setup in a way such that a course is taught to both male and female students at the same time, with both lecture halls being within close proximity to one another. As a matter of fact, the male and female lecture halls are directly adjacent to one another. Each student has an individual client machine connected through a local area network to the instructor's PC" ( Mirza, 2007; "Utilizing Distance Learning Technologies to Deliver Courses in a Segregated Educational Environment").
Still, e-learning might pose various problems to the tutor and the students. Although, it is highly interactive, it cuts the direct contact between the instructor and the students. It leads to inability to comprehend the material and misunderstanding of the true purpose of studying the particular subject. Good utilization of distance learning requires excellent knowledge of the used software and perfect computer literacy
There are instructors and/or students who need more time to acquire the specific skills needed for the implementation of the e-learning. Another aspect of e-learning is the relative independence of the learning process which might be difficult to students with bad time-management habits. They would be intimidated by the progress of the others while not being able to set timetable for their ...
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