About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4729-4739
Publication year: 2018
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.2084

Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain

BEHIND THE WALL: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF STUDENT AND FACULTY INTERACTION IN SYNCHRONOUS VIRTUAL EDUCATION FOR FEMALE STUDENTS IN SAUDI HIGHER EDUCATION

N. Alamri, L. Muir, S. Smith, C. Smith

Edinburgh Napier University (UNITED KINGDOM)
A new approach to classroom technology is required to meet the challenges of 21st Century learning in Saudi Arabia. This study explores the effectiveness of classroom interactions from the perspective of students and instructors with a view to establishing how technology could be used to benefit Saudi women learners. Saudi Arabia is a country with a culture derived from Islamic religion and traditional values. These Islamic rules determine that, when a Saudi woman meets a non-mahram man (a man who does not belong to her family), she must be covered by a hijab, (a loose cloth that covers the body and a piece of cloth to cover the hair and sometimes covering the face), so as not to be seen by such men. Consequently, education in Saudi Arabia has always been segregated based on gender. In higher education, female students have had to be taught by male teachers due to a shortage of female academic staff in some disciplines. Therefore, synchronous virtual classrooms have been created to allow female students to be educated by male teachers and among male students, where the female can participate in the class by being heard but not seen. However, although in this unique environment the social shaping of technology is the primary factor in technology construction (Al Lily 2013), these virtual classes can affect classroom interaction and may lack direct communication. Therefore, the aim of this research is to determine attitudes and opinions towards improving the interaction of female students in Saudi higher education.

The conceptual framework for this study comprises quality criteria for assisting delivery and perceived effectiveness. These are monitoring, information delivery technology, and in terms of interaction: instruction, instructor–to–instructor interaction, and student–to–student interaction (Peltier, Drago and Schibrowsky 2003). This conceptual framework was applied to assess the quality of the various types of interaction, and to evaluate the integrating technology that may enhance interaction in the Saudi synchronous virtual classroom.
A mixed methods case study approach was used to collect data by questionnaire from 283 female students and 49 male teachers. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 6 male teachers, and four focus groups of 23 female students at King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia. Quantitative analysis employed SPSS, and thematic analysis was conducted for the qualitative data.

The findings show that there is limited interaction in these virtual classrooms. It identifies factors affecting female students’ interaction in Saudi synchronous virtual classes, such as pedagogical approaches, technological methods, classroom management, practical courses, and opportunities for feedback. Cultural factors directly affected interaction between female students and male faculty.

Based on the study findings it is evident that female students and male instructors face challenging barriers to interaction in these synchronous virtual classes. The findings suggest potential technological solutions for enhancing interaction and improving the educational experience of students and staff in the virtual classroom. It is concluded that applying advanced technology that considers culture may be an effective solution to enhance interaction and might eliminate the walls and open the doors for effective virtual learning in the Saudi context and for online distance education more broadly.
@InProceedings{ALAMRI2018BEH,
author = {Alamri, N. and Muir, L. and Smith, S. and Smith, C.},
title = {BEHIND THE WALL: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF STUDENT AND FACULTY INTERACTION IN SYNCHRONOUS VIRTUAL EDUCATION FOR FEMALE STUDENTS IN SAUDI HIGHER EDUCATION},
series = {11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2018 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-09-05948-5},
issn = {2340-1095},
doi = {10.21125/iceri.2018.2084},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2018.2084},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {12-14 November, 2018},
year = {2018},
pages = {4729-4739}}
TY - CONF
AU - N. Alamri AU - L. Muir AU - S. Smith AU - C. Smith
TI - BEHIND THE WALL: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF STUDENT AND FACULTY INTERACTION IN SYNCHRONOUS VIRTUAL EDUCATION FOR FEMALE STUDENTS IN SAUDI HIGHER EDUCATION
SN - 978-84-09-05948-5/2340-1095
DO - 10.21125/iceri.2018.2084
PY - 2018
Y1 - 12-14 November, 2018
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2018 Proceedings
SP - 4729
EP - 4739
ER -
N. Alamri, L. Muir, S. Smith, C. Smith (2018) BEHIND THE WALL: A PRELIMINARY STUDY OF STUDENT AND FACULTY INTERACTION IN SYNCHRONOUS VIRTUAL EDUCATION FOR FEMALE STUDENTS IN SAUDI HIGHER EDUCATION, ICERI2018 Proceedings, pp. 4729-4739.
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