The Challenges of Implementing E-learning Courses in Iran’s Higher Education: A University Management Perspective

Document Type: Original Article


1 Department of Educational Sciences, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Law, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Educational Sciences, Yazd Branch, Islamic Azad University, Yazd, Iran



Background: Integrating e-learning into the higher education of developing countries entails identifying the challenges of setting up e-learning courses in these countries. The present article aimed to identify these challenges in Iran. For this purpose, Isfahan University was selected as a leading institution in innovative developments. The University launched its e-learning courses in 2012, and the associated challenges were evaluated from the viewpoints of university officials at the time. Methods: This research was a qualitative study. Based on the literature review, a guideline devised by Ojo and Awiah was used for semi-structured interviews. This instrument categorizes the technological challenges in developing countries into strategic, operational, and thematic limitations. Further, researchers divided the thematic problems into two subgroups: administrative and cultural–legal problems. Then, they interviewed 10 university officials who were course supervisors during 2012-2013 and were practically involved in addressing the problems of organizing these courses in that period. Results: After gathering data, an analysis was conducted by coding the interviews. Then the challenges and their solutions were determined. The major challenges in setting up e-learning courses were lack of strategic insight and planning for using e-learning courses in line with the University’s mission (strategic challenge) and lack of active participation by instructors and learners in e-learning due to limited face-to-face interactions between them in online classes (operational challenge). Conclusions: Research findings pointed to the need for a change in outlook on the part of authorities and policymakers for the purpose of identifying and removing the existing challenges of implementing e-learning in higher education institutions.


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