Can Mobile Learning Technology Close the Gap Caused by Gender Segregation in the Saudi Educational Institutions?

Talal M. Alasmari
Journal of Information Technology Education: Research  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 655-670

This paper investigates the educational gap between males and females caused by gender segregation in Saudi educational institutions and the role of Mobile Learning Technology (MLT) in bridging this gap through the emphasis on teaching practices, learning resources, and opportunities, as well as participation in campus life.

There is a gender gap over the access to educational opportunities and facilities raised by the segregation in educational institutions in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi society, school campuses have been always been restricted due to the cultural and social values of the native people. The practice of segregation extends across all social aspects of life including education. This has resulted in a gender preferred educational system that highly favors males over females in terms of teaching, learning opportunities, facilities, and resources, as well as the participation of activities on campus. This has become disadvantageous for female students because it has limited their equal access to learning opportunities, sometimes trained by less experienced instructors, and has led thus to an unfair academic performance.

An online surveying system was used with a population of all female students who are enrolled in 13 colleges located in Jeddah. The size of the population was 15,171 students. The sampling technique was probabilistic random in which only 300 questionnaires were received back, and only 187 out of 300 questionnaires were fully answered. The study is descriptive, and it used a quantitative survey method with a cross-sectional collected data.

This study supported instructors and higher education administrators in adopting MLT to overcome some cultural gaps caused due to segregation by adding literature on MLT contribution to the enhancement of higher education opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia. This study is the first of its kind in the context of Saudi Arabia to delve into the role of MLT in closing the gender gap through making an effective Saudi higher education system policy.

There are some challenges experienced by Mobile Learning Technology to close the gap caused by gender segregation in the Saudi educational institutions in relation to some dimensions that include demographic data, teaching gap, content, educational opportunities, participation in campus life, and the use of mobile learning.

This study recommends that the educators should consider the need to implement Mobile Learning Technology in the educational system of Saudi Arabia as a means of bridging the everlasting gap of gender separation, especially in schools, and also to empower female students to compete at the same level with their counterpart male students.

Further research is expected to focus on effective implementation in Mobile Learning in female campuses as well as government assistance of promoting Mobile Learning in both public and private schools of female campuses.

The study findings could be highly beneficial for understanding the problems that confront equality and transparency in education between male and female and how Information and Communication Technology (ICT) tools could help guarantee equality in education.

Future studies could be extended to other areas of assisted online education tools. Furthermore, measures can be implemented to enhance transparency and equality between males and females in education, which could be associated with satisfaction levels for both sides.

mobile learning, gender gap, Saudi Arabia, higher education
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