An Omani research has examined the effectiveness of adopting e-learning in Oman during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research titled ‘A Study of the E-Learning System Efficiency during the COVID-19 Pandemic in a Higher Education Context in Oman’ by Dr Mohammed al Siyabi, dean of the Military Technological College, is among the projects funded by the COVID-19 Research Programme of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation that explore the e-learning format in Oman during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a statement, the aim of the project was to determine the difficulties, complications, and potential solutions of the e-learning system implemented in the Omani higher education context during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Principal investigator Dr Siyabi and his team, which consisted of Hussain al Rashdi, Dr Abid Khan and Dr Tariq Hussain from the Military Technological College, used both quantitative and qualitative approaches that subsequently led to an explanatory sequential mixed-methods approach in which a questionnaire, interviews and an experiment were used as data collection tools. The participants were comprised of academic faculty, students, administrative and technical support staff from four different higher education institutions – the Military Technological College, Sultan Qaboos University, Dhofar University and the University of Buraimi.
According to Dr Siyabi, the main findings of the research project revealed that “e-learning is more prevalent to produce good quality results for mature learners and that the alertness and concentration level among young learners during online lesson delivery adversely impacts its outcomes”.
He added that “there is still a long way to go to adapt to the e-learning mode of study with higher confidence in Oman despite all the efforts, new teaching techniques and advanced tools”.
He further stated that the research showed that assessment, which is an integral part of learning, is far behind to replace the conventional methods of supervised assessments and build a higher confidence level in the process.
Based on the results, Dr Siyabi suggested to continue online education even after the pandemic ends through hybrid mode of education and find alternative e-learning assessment tools which can make the online assessment system more reliable and effective. He also recommended providing more technical support to teachers and students, making available all the necessary e-learning materials, developing students’ self-learning motivation, enhancing the ways of informing and communicating with students, and enhancing senior management’s awareness in crisis management.
Dr Siyabi suggested to build up teachers’ knowledge and professional experience in how to integrate pedagogy with technology in the learning and teaching process and to develop teachers’ ability to share knowledge, collaborate, coordinate, and support each other within the organisation.
He recommended providing effective and user-friendly e-learning technology and infrastructure as well as making more investment on virtual reality and augmented reality technology to find innovative and effective e-learning tools for practical courses delivery in the sultanate.
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