American Journal of Educational Research, 2020, Vol. 8, No. 7, 457-464Available online at by Science and Education PublishingDOI:10.12691/education-8-7-2E-Learning During the Period of Pandemic (COVID-19)in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: An Empirical StudyMohammad Ziaul Hoq*Jubail Industrial College (JIC), Royal Commission in Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia*Corresponding author: mohammad [email protected] June 02, 2020; Revised June 20, 2020; Accepted July 05, 2020Abstract E-learning is Information Technology (IT) supported virtual education system. It has emerged as adominant channel of learning. The value of e-learning in education has led to a substantial development of onlinecourses. This study plans to commence with the notion of e-learning, and talk about its need and span in education.There is a special focus on how e-learning can solve the disruptions in education sector due to the pandemic(COVID-19). A survey was performed to verify teachers’ preference towards diverse features of e-learning. Theresearch results show that the majority of the teachers held positive opinion towards e-learning.Keywords: E-learning, Pandemic (COVID-19), E-learning features, E-learning challenges.Cite This Article: Mohammad Ziaul Hoq, “E-Learning during the Period of Pandemic (COVID-19) in theKingdom of Saudi Arabia: An Empirical Study.” American Journal of Educational Research, vol. 8, no. 7 (2020):457-464. doi: 10.12691/education-8-7-2.1. Introduction and the Background ofthe StudyEducation program is going through a significantamendment with the expansion of innovative technologiesand speedy expansion of the Internet. This technologysupported education is broadly known as e-learning [1]. Itis also known as Web-based education, virtual educationor IT supported teaching [2]. The features of onlineeducation are flexible instructions and learning that boostindependent and self-governed education. The studentsmay decide about the site and time of their education,thereby defeat the physical blockades [3,4].Likewise, the manpower of various educationalinstitutes is incapable to manage their educationalprograms with the current arrangements. It may be solvedby integrating ‘blended learning’ that merges virtualeducation with the current conventional educationaltechniques [5]. The mechanism used in online educationmay differ from a DVD or video conferencing capacity, tothe practice of software for building an online educationalenvironment [6]. To make online education fruitful theeducational goals ought to be simple as well aseducational topics should fulfill all the areas of education(i.e. knowledge, abilities etc.) [4,7].In addition, the globe became technically refined morethan ever before and teaching and learning is no exception[8,9,10]. The introduction of a variety of electronicgadgets (i.e. smart phones, tablets and computers etc.)has facilitated us to provide education outside theconventional physical class rooms. The availability of theInternet and tools such as Google Docs, Google Hangouts,Skype, Wikis etc., have created education more collaborative,interactive and efficient [11]. Education is not limited tothe physical classroom anymore; on the contrary, moderntechnical advances (i.e. computer, Internet etc.) havepermitted to offer education residing anywhere inthe globe [12]. In 2001, Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (MIT) teachers offered Open Courseware,which granted entree to the learning resources of almost2,300 MIT subjects to more than 200 million learners [13].Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) ease unrestrictedinvolvement and entree to materials of 6,850 onlinesubjects. Around 58 million learners registered for MOOCsubjects in 2016 and almost 700 institutes, including MIT,Oxford, and Harvard etc. took initiative to offer suchsubjects [14]. Similarly, online resources from YouTube,TED Talks, Udemy etc. played a vital role to createeducation more effective and efficient [11].Besides, e-learning is playing a crucial role to improveperformance of the academia [15]. It incorporates avariety of events: from supported education to blendededucation as well as online education [16]. LearningManagement Systems (LMS) are widely used fore-learning. In most of the cases, they are the initial pointof online education program. Wikipedia defines LMS as asoftware application for the administration, documentation,tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses andtraining programs. Presently, the value of LMS is morethan 3 billion [17]. The growth of LMS and LCMS(Learning Content Management Systems), the expansionof the apparatuses for arranging webinars or onlinelearning, the apparatuses for constructing educationalmaterials and acquiring novel technologies are of the topmost precedence in education [18]. As per the AmbientInsight, online education industry in Western Europe wasaround 8 billion dollars in 2016, whereas in the Eastern

American Journal of Educational ResearchEurope was about 1 billion dollars. The principalacquiring nation in Eastern Europe is the RussianFederation whereas The United Kingdom is the majoracquiring nation in Western Europe. LMS does notdepend on any specific subject; rather it has more broadmanagerial aspects. It cares about the growth of reusableeducational contents [19].Nevertheless, although there are many advantages ofLMS, various e-learning programs assisted by them,particularly in emerging nations, were fully or partlyunsuccessful [20,21]. On the other hand, e-learning assistspupils with the entree to excellent learning opportunity. Itis also a decent choice for lifelong education [22]. Withthis method, educational institutes may cut terms, delivermore courses and reach learners throughout the country orglobe as it permits learners to learn anytime and anywhere.It also helps to make preliminary as well as advanceteaching and learning more available to a larger number oflearners. Needless to say, to make online educationsuccessful, the institutes ought to deliver the facilities ofvirtual registration, automatic entree to resources andprompt response to queries [19,23,24].In addition, e-learning is a program to fulfill therequirements of vastly experienced experts in thecontemporary scientific arena. The challenge of partitionbetween learner and instructor is resolved by a crossmixture of a student-centered online learning [25].E-learning turned out to be extremely admired inindustrial nations, where virtual lessons have been offeredfor a long period of time [19,26].In a nation like Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (K.S.A)where education is one of the highest priorities of theadministration, there is a burning requirement toinvestigate the teachers’ insight concerning onlineeducation. The prospect of online education will bedogged by the intensity of satisfaction by its most vitalstakeholders, the teachers. Consequently, it is extremelyimportant to seriously assess the teachers’ views and theiropinions concerning virtual programs, which would beconstructive in creating education more attractive andefficient.2. MethodologyA survey was conducted among the teachers ofManagement and Information Technology (MIT)Department of Jubail Industrial College (JIC) of Kingdomof Saudi Arabia (K.S.A.) in March to May, 2020about e-learning. Data were gathered in the shape ofself-administered survey. The survey was validated bypilot research conducted on selected teachers. Afterattaining agreement on the validity and relevancy of thesurvey from the teachers it was disseminated to allconstituents. The rationale of the research was enlightenedand well-versed approval was attained.The data were monitored for correctness and deficientdata were barred from the investigation. The data wereexamined by utilizing the Statistical Package for SocialScience (SPSS). To judge thoughts of the teachers towardse-learning, ten statements were assembled and five pointsLikert scale was utilized for scoring: 5. Strongly agree,4. Agree, 3. Not Sure, 2. Disagree and 1. Strongly Disagree.4583. Pandemic (COVID-19) &E-LearningHuge eruption of pandemic virus, natural tragedy etc.took place in the world, distressing not only healthindustry, but also the education sector. For example, in2002, SARS distressed numerous nations around the globe.To prevent the virus, traditional face-to-face educationwas prohibited in some areas in China [27]. Likewise, in2009, the epidemic of H1N1 Flu distressed numerousinhabitants around the globe, causing educationalinstitution shuts in numerous nations and regions [27].As a matter of course, the COVID-19 is leaving newlesson for all spectra of life and across all sectors. Theeducation sector is no exception. With the eruption ofCOVID-19 being acknowledged a pandemic by the WorldHealth Organization (WHO), people are facing a keychallenge in all over the world. It has drasticallyinfluenced our life styles. Moreover, it is testing ouradaptability and flexibility in response to a major crisislike COVID 19. We are dealing with unusual methods ofworking, studying etc. Virtual shopping and social mediaare not novel to us, nor is online education. Nevertheless,COVID-19 is stimulating the requirements to deeplyinvestigate the prospects of virtual education [28].Besides, UNESCO confirmed that, as of 25 March,2020 educational institutions shut down in various nationsfor the period of the COVID-19 prepared around1,524,648,768 students being barred from the usuallearning practice. Substitute methods, like e-learning athouse, were utilized to ensure undisrupted education. Tosurvive in the insecurity and challenging world, learnersought to be ready to excel the 21st century skills to workout troubles vigorously. Self-discipline ability acts a vitalrole in learners' accomplishment. For the period oflearning disturbance, it is an excellent chance to upholdlearners' active learning at house to train self-disciplineskills [29].In addition, the current pandemic (COVID-19) has alteredthe methods of teaching and learning perpetually. Therefore,learning has altered significantly, with the huge increaseof e-learning. Even before COVID-19, there was rapidexpansion and acceptance of educational technology, withworldwide Edtech investments getting US 18.66 billion in2019 and the general market for virtual educationpredicted to be 350 billion by 2025. There has been aconsiderable growth in the usage of online tools (i.e. videoconferencing, webinar, virtual tutoring etc.) since theeruption of COVID-19 [28].Similarly, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Ministryof Education (MOE) is using TV and social networks totransmit education for all grades. It has nominated around127 administrators and instructors to offer regularteaching in 112 enlightening courses through 19 TVchannels (transmitting nationally from a classroom inRiyadh). Learners are presented five choices by theministry for online education [30].On the other hand, although several experts considerthat the unintended and quick shift to e - learning - with noguidance, inadequate bandwidth, and no homework - mayend in an unsatisfactory user experience that isunfavorable to persistent development, others consider

459American Journal of Educational Researchthat a novel fusion model of teaching may appear, withnoteworthy advantages. According to Wang Tao, VicePresident of Tencent Education, e-learning will ultimatelyturn out to be an essential part of education. There havealready been successful shifts among various educationalinstitutes. For instance, Zhejiang University administeredto obtain more than 5,000 subjects online in just twoweeks into the shift using “DingTalk ZJU”. The ImperialCollege London initiated offering a subject on the scienceof COVID-19, which is at present the most registeredclass commenced in 2020 on Coursera [28].Still, many are by now touting the advantages. Forinstance, Dr. Amjad, a faculty member at The Universityof Jordan who has been utilizing Lark (a Singapore-basedfirm) method to educate his pupils states, “It has changedthe way of teaching. It enables me to reach out to mystudents more efficiently and effectively through chatgroups, video meetings, voting and also document sharing,especially during this pandemic. My students also find itis easier to communicate on Lark. I will stick to Lark evenafter COVID-19. I believe traditional offline learning ande-learning can go hand by hand" [28].Moreover, in reaction to high need during the pandemic,various virtual learning firms are providing right ofentry to their services at no cost. After broadcastingcomplimentary live courses, BYJU (a Bangalore-basededucational technology firm) has noticed a 200% raise inthe number of new learners utilizing its service. In themeantime, Tencent classroom has been broadly utilizedsince mid-February, 2020 after the Chinese administrationinstructed learners to restart their lessons throughe-learning. It ended as the biggest “online movement” inthe history of education. Other firms are augmentingcapacities to offer a one-stop store for instructors andlearners. For instance, Lark, started to offer unrestrictedvideo conferencing time, auto-translation capacities,editing of projects etc. to learners. To do so promptly andin the period of pandemic, Lark ramped up its universalserver infrastructure and engineering capacities toguarantee dependable connectivity. Similarly, Alibaba’sonline education solution, DingTalk, had to arrange for asimilar situation: “To support large-scale remote work, theplatform tapped Alibaba Cloud to deploy more than100,000 new cloud servers in just two hours - setting anew record for rapid capacity expansion,” according toDingTalk CEO, Chen Hang [28].4. Features of E-LearningThe three main features of e-learning are the nature ofthe learning practice, synchronicity of involvement, andexistence or nonexistence of face-to-face education [31].The learning practice is called ‘didactic’ when theeducational item is basically passed to learners and theycan’t alter it, and ‘active’ once the learner has control overthe educational procedure [32]. The learning is calledSynchronous while the guidelines are delivered on thespot. In this type of learning, learners interact with teacherin real time. There is communication among the learnersutilizing the available audio-visual supports likechat, online classrooms, as well as audio and videoconferencing. In case of Interactive category, theeducational content progresses as the course advances andstudents interact; the teachers perform as expediters andassist in the progression of knowledge.Besides, e-learning is allocated into complete learningand blended learning, subject to the use of the techniqueas either extra or extension of the face-to-face education.In case of complete e-learning, face to face contact is notnecessary. However, in case of blended kind of e-learningface to face contact is required. For blended e-learning,both face to face and online learning is used from time totime [32].Furthermore, learning management coordinators have akey responsibility in accomplishment of e-learningoutcomes. They need to take care of technical issues andpreserve the system well-designed for maximum benefits.Educators should take adequate training to be familiarwith the system. Pupils ought to study about the e-learningtechniques. Organization ought to create a distinct IT unitto take care of all the technical issues related to e-learning.On the other hand, Learning Management System(LMS) is used for the instructors and pupils toprovide contents, detects and measures individual andorganizational learning objectives. Moreover, it gathersdata for overseeing the educational procedures of theinstitute [33]. The instructors make and distribute content,observe pupils action, and evaluate pupils’ performance.Additionally, the pupils may access materials straight onelectronic devices, may participate in the examinations byusing Internet. The pupils may measure their performance.LMS can perform following activities: Registration(Enroll and manage students online for web-based actions);Scheduling (timetable of various subjects); Delivery(distribute virtual courses); Tracking (identify theadvancement of the students); Communication (contact bye-mail, webinars etc.); and Testing (evaluate competency,student pledge etc.) [32].5. Advantages of E-Learning Flexibility and comfort of entree: E-learning is notstatic or time bound to a specific timetable. It is simple toreach. As a result, students may access it anytime andfrom anywhere. Instructors may improve and oversee theeducational contents anytime they want [34]. Theavailability of the content via mobile also supplementsthis feature [35]. Diverse nature: E-learning is sans borders. It isvaluable in isolated / remote villages as well [36]. Thelearners can essentially be from any area of the world [37]. Time-saving: Many learners can be engaged at thesame time, thus decreasing the time required for theprogram. The material once prepared is everlasting, andmay be re-examined many times. The saved time inmaking materials may be utilized by the instructors toimprove their advanced level of intellectual e-learning[32,38]. Adult learning values: E-learning assists in gainingknowledge in depth, escalates self-motivation, andaccomplishes the adult learning values [39]. Likewise, itpermits learners to establish their own learning methods. Itis personalized to learner’s needs, thus assisting inself-directed learning [40].

American Journal of Educational Research460 Uniformity: As same material is displayed to all thelearners; the curricula consistency is preserved across thelearners. The learners resided in off campuses obtain samematerials. This assists in the constant accomplishment oflearning goals due to identical accessibility of quality andquantity of materials disseminated [32,40].Language obstacles: Various researches identified thatlanguage is a hurdle in execution of e-learning [49]. Aliketraditional learning, the guidelines in e-learning aredelivered in English, which can be a challenge for thelearners who are not comfortable with the foreignlanguage [32].6. Challenges of E-Learning7. Can Students Study by Themselves?Hardware and software issues: The technicalarrangement (i.e. hardware and software) is essential fore-learning platform. The matters associated to thehardware are expenses, shortage of components, andshortage of mechanical expertise to run those [41]. Thesoftware matters are the necessity to gain authorizations[42], and regularly updating the hardware to support them.24/7 entree at both campus and off-campus is essential fore-learning to be effective [32].Connectivity: The accomplishment of e-learning relieson the adequate Internet connection [43]. Satisfactorybandwidth is required at several stages to safeguardappropriate downloading.Financial matters: There are financial issues for fixing,operating, and maintenance of the e-learning platform. Inaddition, it is necessary to develop the infrastructure andhiring the IT experts. It is an extra pressure on theorganization’s funds. As a result, management may beunenthusiastic to finance on e-learning programs [32].Protection of personal information: The confidentialityand safety of data need to be preserved. With the growingvirtual world, cybercrimes are also mounting. As a result,identity management need to be handled effectively andefficiently [44] Modern antivirus software as well asoperating systems are also required. Additionally, specialattention needs to be given on the matters related toplagiarism.Instructor and support staff unavailability: It would bea big challenge to guarantee enough number of efficientworkforce (i.e. academic and support staff). To maintainhigh standard of e-learning program, institutions need tohave adequate number of staff [40]. It is vital to haveenough support staff to sustain the ever-changingconditions of e-learning [32].Technical support: In many institutions there is notenough mechanical backing to operate e-learning programproperly although they may possess good infrastructure[45]. The instructors are normally not conscious of the sortof support needed in specific programs. Numerousresearches suggested that knowledge and expertise ofinformation technology at learners’ stage is mandatory toembrace e-learning [32,46].Lack of face-to-face interaction: The absence of directinteractions is one of the biggest challenges of e-learning[39]. The deficiencies of tutor support, particularly in caseof the complex subjects, were quoted as a drawback ofe-learning [47].Psychological matters: Both teachers and learners feelstress about e-learning mainly when adequate guidelinesare not readily available [33]. The need of knowledgefor understanding the notions of tough subject makesstudents more cynical. Predominant myths concerning thee-learning can disappoint the learners [48].Some researchers describe the fresh students as “digitalnatives”, “millennial students” [50,51]. Pupils intermingleand associate 24/7 with other learners with the help ofsocial media. Many young learners prefer to study thoughthe web and are accountable for their learning activities.They also prefer to use electronic devices for the sake ofeducation [51,52,53].Moreover, some researchers presume that pupils ofcurrent generation are eager and capable to develop theirindividual study agendas as per their desires and abilities.They are also able to manage their specific studyprocedures. Likewise, some scholars claim that learnersought to be at the middle of academic decision-making,comprising syllabus development as well as would beregarded as initiators of education [52,54].Nevertheless, there appears to be a discontinuationbetween how pupils practice and intermingle withequipment in their private and communal lives and howthey utilize equipment in colleges, universities as pupils.A lot of pupils utilize electronic media for differentobjectives such as downloading music, talking withfriends, playing video games, nevertheless most of themare not interested to study comprehensively throughe-learning channels [55,56]. It is not enough for thelearners to recognize how to utilize the mobile devices,software, various apparatuses that exist at a given timeduring their study period rather they ought to be able toadapt to new digital settings. Moreover, they need todevelop behaviors that nurture the non-stop mastery ofnew digital talents as technology is always changing[51,52,54,57].On the other hand, portion of the misunderstandinglinked to the capability of pupils to become self-directedand develop their individual courses in the virtual agestems from the misunderstanding between entree toinformation and knowledge creation. The Internet allowsentree to unlimited information of any type. Nonetheless,there is a huge dissimilarity between impartinginformation vs. creating knowledge. The conventional roleof educational institutions at all stages, from primaryeducation to higher education (i.e. university), is tosupport their pupils to create knowledge throughleadership, coaching and individual care, and not just toconvey information [52].If the key drive of education was to gain information,learners could have studied at their residence frommanuals and booklets, during the pre-digital age, insteadof attending educational institutes. However, for mostpupils, the support of a teacher is vital to convertinformation into knowledge [58,59]. Learners ineducational framework (i.e. school, colleges, universityetc.), require the help of experienced instructors to convertinformation into significant knowledge [55].

461American Journal of Educational Research8. Digital Literacy of TeachersTechnology alone cannot make e-learning successful.Digitally confident teachers are vital for the success ofe-learning. The new technologies oblige the teachers toundertake new duties as well as to cultivate verities ofinnovative abilities. Numerous researches identify thevarious roles, which instructors are anticipated to acceptwhen applying the new technologies in teaching[51,54,59,60,61]. The following are the examples ofresponsibilities instructors are projected to accomplish ine-learning: deliver curriculum, instructional materials,learning plans; observe and judge learning, delivercriticism and grades; as well as construct a learning groupin which students feel secured and trust their offerings areeffective [52,61].Presently, many institutions are not under takingextensive policies to solve the digital knowledgerequirements of their teachers. Many teachers are notwell-prepared to monitor pupils in improving the digitalcapabilities they need. According to research conductedby Stanford History Education Group, almost 40% of theteachers could not identify the Internet sources.Interestingly, these were history academics, who wereeducated for long period to check carefully andjudgmentally at texts. Moreover, several teachers couldnot find a modest problem of web trustworthiness [56].On the other hand, various digital atmospheres ought tobe generated in the educational institutes where teachersmay investigate technology heightened education. It maydevelop required skills of the teachers to expedite learners’engagement [54,56,57]. Apparently, as technologiesadvance and novel procedures flourish, the sense of digitalliteracy will continue to change. Novel apparatuses andpractices will challenge both instructors and pupils withthe potential desires for novel abilities and talents [52].9. Reluctance of Academics to AdoptOnline TeachingNumerous researchers recognize that the uses of thecutting-edge technologies in teaching are presently ratherrestricted and many virtual applications are utilizedpredominantly as supplementary tasks to offline education[60,62,63,64]. There are numerous causes for theunwillingness of teachers to apply the extensive range ofopportunities rooted in virtual education:(1) Unbundlingof the academic duty; (2) Overloaded tasks and stress;(3) Nonexistence of constant maintenance methods; and(4) Anxieties related to copy right issues [52].respondents were male as JIC has only male campus.Teaching experiences of the respondents range from 9months to 21 years with mean of 10.24 years.10.2. Computer SkillsFamiliarity With ComputerOthersOutlookPower PointExcelWord0%20%40%60%80% 100% 120%Source: SurveyMany teachers 22 (78.57%) use laptop regularly,whereas 28 (100%) of the teachers use desktop computerfor various purposes (i.e. teaching and communication).On an average majority of the teachers spend 2-4 hoursper day with their computer. Majority 25 (89.27%) of theteachers are familiar with the Microsoft Office (i.e. Word,Excel, and Power Point etc.) as well as Outlook.10.3. Experience and Familiarity withContemporary E-Learning TechnologyPurpose of Use of BlackboardOthersInteractive SessionsCase StudyVideoPower Point SlidesCourse DescriptionCourse Semester Plan10. Results0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%120%10.1. Profile of the RespondentsThere were around 40 faculty members in MITdepartment of Jubail Industrial College (JIC). Amongthem 33 teachers participated in the survey, which makeresponse rate of 82.50%. Out of the total, 5 replies weredisqualified because of incomplete information. AllSource: SurveyJIC use Blackboard as its online platform. Everyteachers of MIT department have Blackboard account. Innormal condition, about 92.31% teachers use Blackboardto share learning materials (course semester plan, course

American Journal of Educational Researchdescription, power point slides etc.) with the students.However, during the period of pandemic (i.e. COVID-19)all teachers were bound to use Blackboard extensively.10.4. Attitudes Towards E-LearningATTITUDES TOWARDS ELEARNINGStrongly AgreeAgreeDisagreeStrongly DisagreeSource: SurveyMajority of the teachers (86%) held positiveperceptions about e-learning. Many teachers observe thate-learning save time and energy in editing andmodernizing of educational materials. About a smallnumber of teachers (14%) ponder implementation ofe-learning as an extra liability for them as they are notconfident to meet the technical demands. Again, duringthe pandemic (i.e. COVID-19), JIC had to shift alleducational activities from traditional face to faceclassroom system to all online education. All the teacherswholeheartedly co-operated to make online educationsuccessful.10.5. Opinion on E-learning TechniquesMost of the teachers welcomed the idea of newtechnology and techniques in education. However, theypointed out that adequate training and workshops arerequired to make e-learning activities more effective andefficient.462teaching technology software that is incorporated withBlackboard education system.12. Limitations of the StudyThis research is not out of limitations. The study onlyinvolved male teachers. As a result, gender variancescould not be recognized. Also, the results offered in thisresearch are established on an investigation of only oneeducational institution in K.S.A with limited number ofparticipants. Therefore, the results may not be generalized.It means that attention must be applied in its application,as outcomes of this research might not be exchangeable toa big sample size. In addition, this research was based inK.S.A, which may be inclined by Arab culture. It indicatesthat the observations of this research may be culturedependent.13. ConclusionThe dialogue on the execution of technology ineducation spotlights primarily on students’ opinion ratherthan on teachers’ view [53,54,57]. In many educationalorganizations, the technologies (i.e. e-learning) are utilizedmostly for add-on purposes and not for replacementof conventional class room teaching [3,65]. This articleprofessed the crucial responsibilities of teachers ine-learning environment in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.The contemporary literature reviews as well as thesurvey results visibly spec

Jun 05, 2020 · Huge eruption of pandemic virus, natural tragedy etc. took place in the world, distressing not only health industry, but also the education sector. For example, in 2002, SARS distressed numerous nations around the globe. To prevent the virus, traditional face-to-face education