Students’ Experiences of E-Learning Challenges; a Phenomenological Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Educational Administration & Planning, Faculty of Education & Psychology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran. Tel: +98 939 7991215 Email:

2 Department of Educational Administration and Planning, Faculty of Education & Psychology, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Background: The emergence and use of e-learning in education have been one of the most important achievements of higher education which can solve many of the problems of this system, and addressing the challenges of e-learning are one of the concerns and problems of our society. Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the students’ experience of e-learning challenges at the Virtual School of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences (SUMS). Method: The research design was qualitative with the phenomenological method. Potential participants included students from Virtual School of SUMS. 10 students were selected using a purposive sampling method with a standard technique. The data collection method consisted of a semi-structured interview. After coding the data using thematic analysis method, basic, organizing, and inclusive themes were extracted. Results: Results classified the challenges of e-learning at the Virtual School of SUMS into six general categories which are as follows: 13 educational challenges, including the extensive amount of context in the courses as well as a large number of modules, disregarding the educational prerequisites of the field, failure of professors to accompany students at the early stages of the projects, etc.; 10 organizational challenges including non-diversification of e-learning courses, high availability of online academic staff due to lack of e-learning experience, 9 ethical challenges such as lack of appropriate culture for applying this discipline, negative perception towards e-learning,  8 technical challenges including low speed of internet, shortage of physical spaces in e-learning, 5 supportive challenges such as lack of facilities, lack of permission to use the university canteen, 5 evaluation challenges such as mandatory in-person exams in e-learning courses,  not allocating a reasonable proportion of the final mark to in-person exams, 3 managerial challenges such as inefficiency of the educational content, rejection of students by the head of virtual faculty due to lack of time and lastly, 2 communicational challenges such as lack of interaction with academic staff and classmates as well as lack of face-to-face communication. Conclusion: Understanding the challenges and obstacles of establishing e-learning in Iran's higher education and providing practical solutions for them, developing this type of education and, as a result, the excellence of Iran's educational system.


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