Technology Integrated Online Classrooms and the Challenges Faced by the EFL Teachers in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Badia Hakim

Abstract


It is a widespread and strongly supported assumption in the educational arena that the integration of technology into language classrooms can lead to improved teaching and learning with a positive impact on language learners’ proficiency level. The current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has provided language teachers with great many potential opportunities to implement online applications and instruments to develop learners’ language proficiency. In contrast to the previous norms of EFL classrooms, where technology integration used to be an important albeit a subsidiary component, the current COVID-19 state has put online teaching on the foreground as it is purely a techno-led teaching scenario. However, with the integration of technology-based learning strategies, challenges faced by EFL teachers have also increased. The current study aims to study technology-integrated classrooms and address the challenges before EFL teachers in Saudi Arabia during the COVID-19 pandemic. To have a clear instrument development of data and research findings, the Exploratory Sequential Mixed Method Design was selected by the researcher after using a blend of questionnaires and online interview techniques. For data collection, 50 language instructors at the English Language Institute (King Abdulaziz University) participated in the research. Due to the pandemic control lockdown state, these teachers were teaching an online Module from March-May 2020. The research design was focused on obtaining data based on two aspects: 1. Investigating the positive impact of technology integration in online EFL classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2. Addressing the challenges faced by the teachers in techno-led online classes during the COVID-19 era. The research findings indicated that despite having access to various techno-led applications and techniques including the blackboard ultra, podcasting, vodcasting etc., still there were many challenges faced by Saudi language instructors. The most common challenges included, but were not limited to, the inability to have access to the modern equipment, interrupted or weak internet connection, learners’ low motivation level and attention deficit. Despite these issues, however, many language instructors reported a positive inclination towards the use of technology in EFL online classes. The findings of the study shed light on the productive use of techno-led online EFL classrooms, focusing on strategic skill-based learning taking place and establishing a strong virtual link between the instructors and learners. Furthermore, the results of this study would help policymakers, trainers, EFL teachers and professional development experts with the current aspects of COVID-19 and the pending issues determining technology integration in EFL online classrooms, thus enabling them to make better-informed decisions.

Keywords


English Language Institute, King Abdulaziz, University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.9n.5p.33

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