The role of academic libraries in supporting distance learning in Saudi higher education: a case study approach
2010-11-02T10:14:58Z (GMT) by
This study aimed to investigate the role of academic libraries in Saudi higher education in supporting distance learning (DL) in the country. Two cases, known for their history of offering DL programmes in the country, were selected. These were Imam Mohammad Bin Saud Islamic University (IMBSIU) in Riyadh and King Abdul-Aziz University (KAU) in Jeddah. A mixed methodology, which included both qualitative and qualitative approaches, was used. Triangulation of data collections methods was achieved by implementing a document analysis, interviews and questionnaires. The results indicated that DL in the country is transforming traditional approaches into fully automated techniques through the implementation of e-learning via the Internet; the Saudi government is supporting this approach. However, the results also showed that policies of academic libraries lack rules which recognise DL stakeholders right to be served and supported. Little or no co-operation was found to exist between academic libraries and DL deanships in both case studies; this could hinder the efforts made by academic libraries to serve and support DL stakeholders. In addition, textbooks were found to be the main source of learning and teaching in DL, thus reducing the desire of DL stakeholders to use their academic library. The lack of DL guidelines was found to be responsible for making distance learners less likely to use information resources other than textbooks. Official interactions were weak between DL stakeholders, especially learners with their instructors, and with academic and non-academic support such as academic library services. This was found to be responsible for a lack of academic library support specifically designed for DL stakeholders, and many other factors relating to the existing condition of academic libraries were also found to be significant in failing to recognize the right of DL stakeholders to be served. However, overall, participants attitudes toward the importance of academic libraries in supporting DL stakeholders were positive. Moreover, participants expressed a desire to find solutions as soon as possible to overcome the current lack of information services designed for DL stakeholders. According to this study s results, several recommendations have been formulated related mainly to the importance of building co-operation between academic libraries and DL deanships in the country. It is concluded that there is an urgent need for DL stakeholders needs and rights to be recognised and supported by any means in order to improve the quality of DL. Hence, several models/solutions, which can be implemented in either the short or the long term, are proposed here in order to provide solutions for the current lack of information services being offered to DL stakeholders by both academic libraries and DL deanships.