E-learning in the KSA: a taxonomy of learning methods in Saudi Arabia
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The advent and rapid advancement of the internet and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure as a whole has greatly revolutionised the world. The presence of this advanced technology has facilitated and eased communication and the relay of information. This has provided advantages for students and educators. Although the Saudi Arabian tertiary education system has been greatly transformed over the past couple of years, the most persistent challenge is how to access higher education. There is an urgent need for education delivery methods that take education beyond the traditional confines of campuses. Therefore, institutions of higher learning in Saudi Arabia have begun to explore various education delivery methods to identify the best course delivery methods for students. The introduction of e-learning will possibly increase the access to tertiary training and education. This study therefore investigates different multimodal delivery methods and technologies currently being employed by tertiary education institutions as well as the incorporation of technology into teaching practice to improve educational systems. This research is qualitative in nature and analyses published academic and industry literature. The research uses a qualitative approach in the development of a model and framework of the Saudi educational system. Symbolic Interactionism is used in the analysis of source material for the development of the model and the framework. The relevant data is collected and categorized through the building of a taxonomy. The study relies on a sample of 34 universities (24 government universities, 9 private universities and 1 public research university) and employs symbolic interactionism. There has been growth, and an increase in and subsequent use of information and technological innovations and ICT in the field of higher education in Saudi Arabia. In addition, the study has established that the learning management system (LMS) implemented relied on the type of university as well as the success rate of the program. The study concludes that the taxonomy of Saudi tertiary education system has six main features on which the system is based. These features have influenced the adoption and implementation of e-learning in the education system. The findings also indicate that there is likely to be faster implementation and adoption of e-learning programs within the science-based courses than the social science and art courses and that should be considered to prevent institutional gender bias. There is also a higher probability of the adoption of e-learning within post- graduate courses, that is, master and doctoral degrees, than by lower level courses, bachelor degrees, certificates, and diplomas.