Saudi Academic Perceptions of e-Learning Systems [Microsoft Excel workbook]
Thorpe, SJ; Alsuwayed, HM
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has seen growing interest in the uptake of cloud-based educational technologies in the university sector in recent years. The majority of delivery models are currently structured on a client-server based provision and typically utilizing Blackboard or Moodle with some choosing a Learning Management System (LMS) designed for Arab countries (Al-Dali et al., 2013). Many universities are interested in leveraging the potential benefits offered by cloud computing and are exploring the potential to migrate their e-Learning service provision into the cloud. A cloud computing architecture for e-Learning would see a university move from maintaining the hardware and licensed software resources needed for e-Learning systems onsite to an outsourced set of IT services provided over the Internet on a shared and scalable infrastructure. In order to better understand the potential of cloud-based opportunities, it was considered important to first investigate the experiences of staff in their current use of e-Learning systems. This article aims to broadly contribute to a better understanding of the academic perceptions of learning and value in e-Learning systems in higher education, and in particular within the Saudi Arabian context. A survey was undertaken to explore whether current e-Learning systems were serving tertiary learning requirements as articulated by those academics teaching and providing the e-Learning services in Saudi Arabian universities. The online survey collected 55 full responses. Findings contrast earlier studies critical of the country’s e-Learning provision and suggest that Saudi Arabian universities now appear to have sound e-Learning infrastructure in place. Shifting e-Learning services into the cloud was identified as a new opportunity that may allow academics to leverage the benefits of cloud technologies and to address some of the challenges they face.