The Phenomenological Exploration of the Learners’ Interaction in Virtual Universities


Tarbiat Moallem University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: This study evaluates the nature of electronic learning based on the mutual experience of the students and learners at virtual universities. The main research question was how Iranian students experience electronic learning. In other words, we aimed to understand the meaning of the electronic learning phenomenon and define its different aspects in order for users to comprehend. Materials and Methods: This study is a qualitative study with a phenomenological method. Seven students from virtual universities were selected using the Snowball method and semi-structured and in-depth interviews were done. Then, the content of the interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.Results: The study findings were presented based on the main research question in three categories: 1) Interaction, with two sub-categories of classmates and teachers. 2) Management and learning style. 3) Challenges and problems, with three sub-categories of culture, employment and weaknesses, and shortcomings.Conclusion: The results of this study show that lack of social presence and weak interaction between the students and teachers or their classmates, was one of the challenges the participants in this study faced. In the interaction categories the problems students faced was: feelings of mental insecurity, the teachers' irresponsibility due to the lack of visual or physical communication, lack of correct understanding of people and situations, exam anxiety resulting from not knowing the teacher's attitude and behavior, teachers' apathy towards questioning in classes with simultaneous communication, and feelings of loneliness. On the other hand, in electronic learning the students' role is more active. We also found cultural problems resulting from not accepting this method of learning in the country because of the students' sense of prejudice and inferiority, the weakness of technical infrastructures and management, and not benefiting from skilled teachers in virtual education.