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. After gathering data, an analysis was conducted by coding the interviews. Then the challenges and their solutions were determined. Results: 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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