Document Type : Original Research Paper


1 Department of Higher Education, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Educational leadership and development, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


Background and Objectives: Nowadays, virtual education has become one of the most important applications of information and communication technologies in the world and extensive activities have been started in this field. This can be one of the favorite options to fill the educational gaps, in the unavailability of face to face education and eventually leading to the promotion of educational justice for people in rural and remote areas. The aim of this study was determing whether those who were the target audience for this form of education have perceived it as a fair experience. To be more precise, which part of this type of education has led to a feeling of justice in these individuals and which part has led to a significant feeling of injustice in their experiences. In short, the aim of this study was to investigate the experiences of virtual students of Tehran’s comprehensive universities of the state of educational justice in virtual education in order to determine its aspects and dimensions.
Methods: This study was conducted as a qualitative research using the phenomenology method. One of the suitable cases to apply the phenomenological method is providing an answer to the following question:  Is there any need to further clarify a specific phenomenon?  The state of justice in virtual education has not yet been properly studied in any research; therefore, the researchers in the present study selected the above approach to study this issue. Based on its goal, in this study, standard sampling was used among virtual students who have experienced virtual courses of Tehran Comprehensive Universities (Amirkabir University, Shahid Beheshti University, Iran University of Science and Technology, K. N. Toosi University of Technology and Tehran University) and met the criteria for being included in this study. The sampling process continued until the data were saturated in 32 interviews. A semi-structured interview was used for data collection. The interviews were analyzed using the Smith method. In order to confirm the validity and accuracy of the research, the reliability and verifiability of the data were examined. To ensure validity, the findings of this study were presented to the participants and they expressed their views to the researcher on the correspondence of the findings with their experiences; moreover, collaborative reflection on the emerged themes was conducted by the researcher. The researchers ensured the validity of this research by maintaining the documentation at all stages of the study. Due to ethical considerations, before starting the interview, the participants were informed of the goals and importance of the research and participated in the research with informed consent. Participants were also assured that their identity would be kept confidential during and after the study.
Findings: The main question of this research was: What experiences do students have regarding justice and injustice in virtual education? In analyzing the interviews, the main concepts were extracted from the sentences expressed by the participants and were represented in a reduced conceptual form, resulting in 153 descriptive codes. In the next step, by reflecting on the descriptive codes, overlapping, similar, and related codes were identified. These concepts were integrated in the form of 20 interpretive codes based on commonalities, similarities and semantic overlaps. Finally, in the last step, the interpretive codes were reduced to 7 explanatory codes: students' equity with different characteristics (geographical condition, job status, and learning competence), students' equality in their interaction with professors (equality despite  differences in appearance features and cultures), lack of real interactions (short and fragile interactions), content problems (non-practical content, lack of supervision in content development and lack of codified and specific planning in presenting courses), organizational misconceptions toward virtual students (having capitalistic attitude to students and not paying attention to students' real abilities), inequality in the use of facilities and costs (high educational costs and inequality in the use of facilities), and inequality in  providing educational services (lack of appropriate organizational behavior patterns suitable for virtual teaching, low staff number to meet the educational needs of students, high number of students in classrooms and the use of inappropriate teachers for teaching).
Conclusion: Justice and its realization has always been one of the main slogans in the field of education. Participants in the present study have sometimes focused on communication and sometimes focused on the facilities provided in the training process. If we take a general look at the themes obtained, we can divide them into two spectrums of justice and injustice although more examples have been found in the section on injustice. Another main conclusion that is drawn from the present study is the predominant link between the instances of justice and the inherent characteristics of virtual education and the predominant link between the instances of injustice in the way  the virtual teaching is managed and lack of facilities appropriate for this form of education. Finally, it should be noted that due to the increasing use of virtual education and its fundamental difference from face-to-face education, ethical issues also appear differently in its process which require accurate recognition and study.


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