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  1. […] appreciated reading Tony Bates’ experiences of leading a series of workshops in his post: a personal view of e-learning. The limited adoption of technology in universities isn’t that unusual from my experience. A […]

  2. marjariitta ritanoro
    November 6, 2009 - 7:45 am

    Nordic European Countries are leading within within eLearning.
    We have had LMS systems with blended learning and learning carried by eLearning plattforms. But the most crucial thing is the angle of the learning. Is it teacher or a book or is the students learning in focus. The method is another important issue: are we asking and waiting copies from the pages of the litterature or can students seen as persons who can work and applicate the theories even in the future. Education is fostering for the future ?
    Thank you for your report

  3. Hala
    November 7, 2009 - 2:02 am

    Excellent report. We share many of the issues found in Saudi context,e.g. infrastructure, except having the money! thanks for sharing.

  4. Maxim Jean-Louis
    November 7, 2009 - 11:00 pm

    An insightfulo observation and perspective on elearning in that region.

    Your thought on the catalytic role that women may play in advancing elearning there is both intriguing an encouraging.

  5. […] Personal View of E-Learning: Saudi Arabia – I have not had the privilege of visiting Saudi Arabia. As a result, I particularly appreciated reading Tony Bates‘ experiences of leading a series of workshops in his post: A personal view of e-learning. […]

  6. Ayesha Habeeb Omer
    November 9, 2009 - 1:23 am

    Thank you for sharing your report. Really useful stuff. I loved reading it as I visited Saudi Arabia for Hajj. We at CommLab work for some companies in Saudi were we develop product training material. I think companies are using elearning more than universities.

  7. Khalid
    December 2, 2009 - 10:46 pm

    Thanks Tony
    I am doing my PhD in E-learning in the Saudi Arabia higher education in an Australian University. What you mentioned is very true. Also, there is a great lack of Professional development for faculty. I wish I can meet with you there and exchange ideas and probably workshops or seminars.

    I will be happy if we keep in touch

  8. Dr. Mohammed Albalawi
    April 4, 2010 - 1:23 am

    Dear Tony

    I found your nice article about the E-Learning in Saudi Arabia, this was my dissertation in Distance Learning in Saudi Arabia, hope you like this:
    We can share info about E-Learning and Distance Learning in Saudi.
    Dr. Mohammed Albalawi

    • Afifa
      April 22, 2012 - 5:49 am

      Dear Dr. Mohammed Salah Albalawi

      I hope my email finds you well. I am doing a story for Arab News on the trend of ‘E-learning in Saudi Universities.’ The story will discuss the various online tools and methods being employed in universities, attitudes of students and teachers, challenges and the potential of online study. For this, i would like to interview teachers, students and experts on e-learning. It would be great if i can interview you. My email is

  9. […] along primarily by the huge amount of government funding. Here’s a great post from Tony Bates on eLearning in education sector in Saudi Arabia. It also gives a good peep into the male female ‘divide’ one would find in the Saudi […]

  10. adel
    November 1, 2010 - 11:21 pm

    Thanks, but it is not ethically appropriate to expose to everybody what is the bad thing about the country you have visited.. yes it can be in special report for the university or to the sector who might need it to make the correction, but not in the net
    You were brought to train and teach people who are seeking knowledge and improvement so when you see some weakness or shortages, I think you just give the help and assistance without telling everybody some bad stories, viewing or feelings.
    You are just like the physicist who brought to cure some patients, is it ok for them when they finish examining them to go to the public and say to everybody that those patients are so and so,,,,
    In my opinion it is not a scientific neither ethical behavior
    Thanks again for giving the training

  11. adel
    November 1, 2010 - 11:42 pm

    You are an e-learning experts so talking through the wall or even through the cyberspace should not be an issue. And I am really surprised when you said “it was impossible for me to interact with the women effectively “, you said that while you are training them about e-learning and distance learning .
    May be they are trying to give you one example or distance learning
    Anyway, thanks for giving the training

  12. Tony Bates
    November 3, 2010 - 5:24 pm

    Hi, Adel

    I am sorry you are offended by this post, but on re-reading the post I still have a good conscience. I do not believe I have acted unethically. I was paid to deliver three workshops, which I did. I did not sign a contract restricting my reporting on my experience in delivering the contract. The posting is a factual account of what transpired. I think it is fair and informative of the actual e-learning situation in Saudi Arabia, as best as can be determined in a short visit. If it is not, I would welcome corrections.

    I recognize that there are cultural differences here, which is why I am sincerely sorry if I have offended you. The difficulties I encountered were mainly because of communication difficulties, since regrettably I don’t speak Arabic. I try to communicate as well as possible during my workshops, but it is difficult if I am not told or am unaware that there is another group in another room. This would have been more manageable if I had known, but translation was not always available. As I said, I am partly to blame for this, not speaking Arabic, and not adjusting sufficiently to the culture. And certainly, if I was going to do it by distance education, I would not design it this way.

    The general response to my blog shows that there is a great deal of interest about elearning in Saudi Arabia, and the post shows that there is good development going on. I think it is valuable for people to know that.

    I do appreciate your taking the effort to tell me about your concerns, and I am sorry if you are still offended,


  13. Dr Samira Bakr
    December 6, 2011 - 10:10 am

    Hi Tony,

    Thank you for exchange your experience with us. I am Egyptian, I worked in Saudi Universities a year ago, I can admit that Suadi women are very keen and have strong motoviation to achieve promosing goals.


  14. Alaa Sadik
    February 15, 2012 - 2:21 pm

    Thank you Dr. Bates for this cross-cultural post. I am Egyptian professor, and one of the earlier researchers who applied your ACTIONS Models in their dissertations (1998-).
    First, overall, I am wondering about using the term e-learning in face-to-face/on-campus/traditional universities in Saudi Arabia universities, and others in the region. Always these universities have no full distance education or e-learning programs. You may find DE programs at the Arab Open University and the Gulf University.
    Second, undergraduate educational technology programs in KSA, almost, graduate IT teachers, and learning resource center specialists rather educational technologists who learned about instructional deign, e-learning strategies and development, distance education, and multimedia applications. You may find the only program in the region at
    Third, and last, an international DE and e-learning expert, like Dr. Bates, should NOT provide such a training or workshops at teacher-level, with my respect to all teachers inside and outside KSA, even if this kind of activities was not a priority in your visit.
    I personally appreciate your contribution to the science of open learning within the last 30 years.

    • Tony Bates
      February 15, 2012 - 5:16 pm

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      There is no agreed definition of e-learning. Different people use it to describe different activities. I use it in a broad sense, to cover any use of information technologies for teaching and learning. This would include use on campus. I see e-learning as a continuum from classroom support through hybrid learning to fully online learning (i.e. distance education). In the case of KSA, it was being used mainly to support on-campus teaching, although they are moving towards fully online learning in some contexts.

      In the last two or three years there have been major developments in KSA in e-learning, including the formation of a National Centre for e-learning, and the development of e-learning courses in several universities, especially King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, and also at King Khalid University, to mention just two..

      I’m not sure if I understood your last remark, but I take it to mean that you disapprove of my working with universities in Saudi Arabia. I did think carefully about this before I went there. However, I have very good working relationship with faculty at some of the universities, and I believe that contact and discussion is better than isolation. I could be wrong of course.

      • Alaa Sadik
        February 22, 2012 - 8:38 am

        Thank you for feedback Prof. Bates. I like your broad definition of e-learning.

        Here at the Department of Instructional & Learning Technology, College of Education, SQU.EDU.OM, we are very pleased to share with you our PresentationTube network; a new, and non-profit project for producing and sharing video presentations.
        PresentationTube was developed to help instructors, students, e-learning institutions, virtual presenters, and business professionals record, publish and share quality, accessible, and interactive video presentations. It integrates a variety of presentation aids (slides, video, text, drawing, web content, etc.) to enhance the quality of online presentations and allows interactivity via scrollable slide thumbnail, Facebook social plug-in, and self-assessment quiz, allowing participants to be heard and involved.

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  15. Anonymous
    February 15, 2012 - 9:23 pm

    Prof, I did not know that there were kutchi ( kuchi in your post) families in Afghanistan, dressed the way the picture showed. Kutch is a region of India in the state of Gujarat. Is that picture a picture taken in India?

    • Tony Bates
      February 17, 2012 - 5:29 pm

      Hi, anonymous.

      Yes, the Kuchis are a distinctly different ethnic group from the Kutchis in Gujarat and Pakistan. The photo was taken in Bamian, in Afghanistan in 1977, passing the feet of the statues of Buddha several years before they were blown up by the Taliban. There are seven million Kuchis in Afghanistan, with at least 60% remaining fully nomadic, mainly of Pashtun origin. They do travel into Pakistan.

  16. […] A personal view of e-learning in Saudi Arabia […]

  17. Mark Johnstone
    July 22, 2012 - 6:54 am

    Great post Tony. Perhaps it’s time for a return visit. A lot can happen in three years.

    I was interested by your prediction that women will be the driving force in e-learning in Saudi Arabia but am left wondering, again, what e-learning is and how the women you met might define it. My experience is that women are especially committed to traditional approaches to education and so they may tend to see e-learning as simply another avenue by which to deliver traditional educational experiences. I feel they may tend to focus more on the technology and production side – as you noted in your post – and less on instructional design and on shifting our focus away from teaching and onto learning. Or, am I now defining e-learning in my own way?

    • Tony Bates
      July 22, 2012 - 1:24 pm

      Hi, Mark

      What impressed me on the visit was the seriousness and commitment of the Saudi women I (indirectly) met to using technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning in their country. There was a collective spirit and enthusiasm that was different from those of the males I taught. I know it’s dangerous to generalize or stereotype gender differences, but these do become clearer or starker when the genders are separated. I think for the men, e-learning was just something new to be learned. For the women, it was seen as a way of changing the system, to make it more responsive and individual – but I could be wrong,


  18. E-learning in Arabia at ennezeta77
    November 28, 2012 - 8:47 am

    […] Aldilà dei petro-dollari, che a livello didattico tutto sommato hanno una valenza relativa, la parte più interessante, che giustifica in pieno la lettura del post, è quella che riguarda il ruolo delle donne all’interno delle università arabe. Vera formazione a distanza, anche in presenza. The original arrangement had me with my computer and my Saudi male colleague sitting behind a screen at the end of the room, with the 25 women and the projector on the other side of the screen. A personal view of e-learning in Saudi Arabia – Tony Bates […]

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