Background and Objectives: One of the areas related to information and communication technology that can play an effective role in the transfer of human knowledge is web-based virtual education. Accordingly, and especially since March 2019 and due to the spread of Covid-19 pandemic, the use of virtual education along with face-to-face education in the higher education system has become a very tangible necessity. As a result, many universities have entered the field of virtual education for their students. In the present study, researchers sought to use a qualitative method to explain the experiences and views of stakeholders to extract the challenges of e-learning in the university. Therefore, the present study investigated the challenges and threats of e-learning in higher education during the pandemic from the perspective of the faculty members.
Methods: The method of the present study was content analysis in terms of applied objectives’ it was a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Participants in this study included professors of Allameh Tabatabai University who had experience of teaching virtual courses. The sampling method was purposeful and the sample size was completed till the theoretical saturation limit was obtained and accordingly, 18 professors of Allameh Tabatabai University were included in the sample. The research tool was a semi-structured interview form; content analysis was used to analyze the findings. In this method of analysis, according to the nature of the main research question, the threats of the implemented curricula were causally investigated and explained, and finally the challenges and harms of e-learning in universities during the Covid-19 pandemic were presented in the form of six main categories .
Findings: Based on the findings, the challenges of e-learning were classified into six main ones including 1) "Insufficient skills of the faculty members in selecting and using appropriate media", 2) "Faculty members’ weakness in the relative use of the virtual resources, web-based technologies, online consulting services, and technical support ", 3)" Faculty members’ weakness in the relative use of cyberspace to produce educational content ", 4)" Inadequate bandwidth in universities ", 5 "Insufficient speed of advances in updating digital content" and 6) "Inconsistency of the existing curriculum dimensions with virtual education".
Conclusion: Due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 and the importance of using virtual methods in higher education, it is necessary for professors in the virtual education and learning system to benefit from a variety of skills of the curriculum including objectives, content, teaching methods, teaching tools and tools and evaluation. Also, in explaining these findings, it should be noted that due to the serious challenges facing professors, it was suggested that familiarity with various e-learning software and their capacities for e-learning must be considered in the special training programs for teachers. Paying attention to infrastructures such as bandwidth, electronic resources and digital content, as well as the issue of keeping communication tools and equipment up-to-date and using new technologies of virtual education, including virtual social networks along with virtual education systems in universities, are some suggestions.
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