Digitalization of learning in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 outbreak: A survey

Inform Med Unlocked. 2021:25:100632. doi: 10.1016/j.imu.2021.100632. Epub 2021 Jun 15.


Following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in China in late December 2019, more than 217 countries became almost immediately infected in the resulting pandemic. Consequently, many of them decided to close their educational institutions as a way of preventing the spread of this virus. For many of them, though, the closure made them unable to deliver learning materials to students owing to their inability to provide the right technology for the purpose. To assist with the digitalizing of learning during this time, this study reviews the most common technologies used in the delivery of learning materials, with the experience of most infected countries being considered. Major challenges in online learning are discussed in this study as well. Further, Saudi Arabia was considered as a case study for the effectiveness of distance learning during the 2020 spring semester, where 300 undergraduate students were surveyed on their opinions of distance learning. The responses to the survey indicated that distance learning was effective in providing the required knowledge to the students during the outbreak of COVID-19. The findings showed that although the lack of interaction and poor internet connections were factors affecting comfortable and successful learning of physics and mathematics, 63% of students were satisfied with learning management systems, 75% of students found it easy to understand course materials, and 67% of students found it easy to understand assignments and could deal with them comfortably. The study findings can encourage educational institutions to digitalize their learning materials in the future.

Keywords: COVID-19; Educational technologies; Novel coronavirus; Online learning.