Exploring the readiness of students and English teachers to use e-learning for English as a foreign language in Saudi Arabia
Mutambik, Ibrahim Mohammed Othman
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In an era of increased global investment in the use of technology in education generally, Saudi Arabia has intensified its quest to incorporate E-learning as a supplementary tool for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at the high school levels. The benefits of this paradigm shift are obvious because the growth of the Internet and the proliferation of computers appear to have had a direct impact on the steady increase in popularity of E-learning, especially for EFL, in Saudi Arabia. This research is premised on the assumption that the successful implementation of E-learning in Saudi Arabia will require the readiness of students and teachers in particular, ahead of the adoption and use of the technology for teaching and learning. This study adopts a mixed method approach using both qualitative and quantitative methods at three stages in order to achieve distinct research objectives. The first stage of the research involved qualitative interviews with students and teachers that explored the underlying factors of readiness of students and English teachers. The second stage of the research involved surveys with students and English teachers that examined their current level of readiness, as well as any age and/or gender differences in their readiness to use E-learning as a supplementary tool for EFL in Saudi Arabia. The third and final stage involved in-depth qualitative interviews with national and regional government officials as well as heads of families in order to develop a deeper understanding of the current level of readiness for students and English teachers. Overall, the present study provides an alternative perspective to understanding the readiness of students and teachers to use E-learning, particularly in the Saudi context. The study establishes that in developing societies where institutions are less established and considered thinner, the introduction of E-learning in such societies will require more than the availability of financial resources and political will. The research outcome demonstrates that the readiness of students and teachers for E-learning in Saudi Arabia is indicated mainly by a set of underlying personal factors which are influenced by a set of external factors. In terms of the current level of readiness of the respondents, there is a mixed outcome. Further, there are also some differences and similarities in the readiness of respondents to use E-learning for EFL based on age and gender. Finally, this study contributes to the existing body of international literature on E-learning readiness by proposing an expansive new framework that takes into account both personal and external factors in exploring readiness. More so, the propose new framework incorporates the significant role the wider cultural and social context plays as well as the importance of gender issues and their particular centrality in the Saudi context in relation to individual and organisational E-learning readiness.