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Critical success factors for eLearning in Saudi Arabian universities

Abdullah Alhabeeb (Department of Languages, Information and Social Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)
Jennifer Rowley (Faculty of Humanities Languages and Social Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

International Journal of Educational Management

ISSN: 0951-354X

Article publication date: 13 March 2017




The purpose of this paper is to offer insights into the development of eLearning systems and the perceptions of key players in the management of eLearning systems in three large universities in Saudi Arabia. It establishes the relative importance of different factors and compares these findings with studies conducted elsewhere in the world.


Desk research was conducted to gather a profile of the eLearning initiatives in the participating universities. Structured interviews were conducted with senior managers with responsibility for implementing and promoting eLearning in their universities. The interview protocol prompted discussion of the importance of the following sets of factors in the success and acceptance of eLearning: student characteristics, instructor characteristics, learning environment, instructional design, and support. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis.


Supported by the Saudi Government, the three universities in this study have been developing their eLearning services. The two most important groups of critical success factors in this process were regarded as those related to student and instructor characteristics. Further analysis within each group of factors suggested that participants regarded instructor knowledge with learning technologies and student knowledge of computer systems, and technical infrastructure as important facilitators of success. Amongst instructional design factors, clarity of learning objectives and content quality were regarded as important. Insights are offered as to the reasons for these selections.


This study furthers earlier research on eLearning managers’ views and contributes to understanding of eLearning and its management in the Middle East.



Alhabeeb, A. and Rowley, J. (2017), "Critical success factors for eLearning in Saudi Arabian universities", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 131-147.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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