Online learning has become very popular among students across the globe. The statistics suggested by Lloyd et al (2012) demonstrates that in the Fall semester of 2010, 31.3 per cent of American students were enrolled in at least one online course, and in the future, this number can rise to 83 per cent (Allen & Seaman, 2007). In Saudi Arabia, the number of students electing online education is lower when compared to western world. Al-Khalifa (2009) attributes this to the fact that the kingdom has had a relatively short history of using printed, electronic, or broadcast means for students who are not physically on site.
Under globalization, the situation is gradually changing, and Saudi Arabia recognizes the need to adopt distance learning as part of its educational strategies (Al-Khalifa, 2009). The widespread of online education in the kingdom depends on many factors, and the most important of them is the acceptance of e-learning service systems in Saudi Arabian academia. Skepticism about this form of learning affects Saudi Arabian and other academia’s decision to go online. It is suggested that the skepticism is the derived from a range of factors. The main objective of this positivist research is to explore factors that impact the acceptance of e-learning service systems in Saudi Arabian universities, and make assumptions regarding addressing them.
The present research adopts positivist approach. According to Stahl (2007), positivism is “a research approach that is based on the ontological doctrine that reality is independent of the observer” (p. 4). Given the nature of positivism, it is concluded that its major aim is to prove the cause and effect relationship between variables (Lin, 1998).The objective of this research is to examine the relationship between internal and external factors (independent variables) and acceptance of e-learning service systems in Saudi Arabian universities (dependent variable). The factors shaping the acceptance are identified further in this paper.Research MethodologyIn order to collect data, the study relies on mixed method approach. Mixed method approach combines quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, and is able to address limitations of the major approaches that are being used today in the social and human sciences (Creswell, 2003; Grbich, 2012). The mixed method data collection method was selected due to its advantages.
Firstly, mixed methods allow the researcher reinforcing validity of the study by adding more data, and considering more perspectives on the issue under research (Babbie, 2013). Secondly, by combining quantitative and qualitative data collection methods, a researcher is able to benefit from advantages and mitigate the limitations of each particular method (Hesse-Biber, 2010; Babbie, 2013). Strengths of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods are considered further in this proposal.SamplingThe research population will consist of lecturers, leaders, and students from selected Saudi Arabian universities. The study will rely on information retrieved from 6 universities participating in the fieldwork and interviews. The universities were selected on the basis of their implementation of e-learning service systems and acceptance of their leadership to take part …