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Title: The future of learning: implementation of SOLE in a Saudi primary school
Authors: Otain, Fatma
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: Over the last three decades, increased attention has been given to different forms of computer supported collaborative learning within the classroom. One such example is Self-Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs), in which students are supposed to work collaboratively using the Internet to answer a question with minimum teacher intervention. A number of empirical studies have indicated the effectiveness of using SOLE to improve learners’ academic performance when working in small cooperative groups. However, there have been no previous studies conducted in Saudi Arabia or even the Arab world in general, where SOLE is considered to be a new teaching and learning approach. This study is therefore a pioneer in the education field in Saudi Arabia that attempts to improve the traditional patterns of teaching in Saudi primary schools through introducing a new method and exploiting new sources of learning and specifically the Internet. The study also seeks to highlight the barriers in the face of introducing and implementing such methods to draw the attention of policymakers in Saudi Arabia in order to avoid them. The current study has adopted an action research approach as a methodology through exposing a group of 28 primary school children in Riyadh city in Saudi Arabia to 10 SOLEs sessions over a period of 14 weeks. During these sessions, the participants’ activities were observed and their perceptions were surveyed. More specifically, students’ academic and social behaviour were observed and their opinions about learning within SOLE and how it compares to traditional classroom experience were surveyed. In addition, the parents of these children, their classroom teacher, the school head teacher and 17 other teachers from the same school were either surveyed or interviewed to explore opinions about SOLEs, perceptions of the participating pupils about SOLEs experience, and the challenges that might face introducing SOLEs into Saudi schools. The findings indicate that engaging in SOLEs benefited students academically and socially. However, teamwork faced challenges as the students were internally dissatisfied with the role of an individual, equity and involvement in the group and they could not manage their interactions. Based on this, it is argued that more time seems required to achieve adequate social skills by students coming from traditional environment classrooms such as in Saudi Arabia, but teacher intervention might save time in this respect through facilitating group work and speeding up the acquisition of collaborative skills. Moreover, the results of this study revealed a number of challenges for integrating digital-technology-based learning such as SOLEs in Saudi schools. These challenges are the lack of students’ skills in working in a collaborative learning setting, the lack of resources (computers and Internet connection) and technical support and the lack of school time due to dense curriculum and high teacher workload. In addition, there is a deficiency in teacher training and specifically about how to integrate innovation teaching approaches in current curriculum effectively. The study concludes with a discussion of the implications for researchers, practitioners and educational policy, and recommendations for further research. Despite the challenges, the study concurs with the value of the SOLEs approach as a realistic and effective method to help the Ministry of Education in Saudi Arabia to achieve the 2030 Kingdom’s vision.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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