Mobile Learning in Saudi Higher Education

  • Hayat Abdulrahman Alajlan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study investigated female students’ practices and experiences of using mobile technology for learning in Saudi higher education during the period of 2014-2017, and built a theoretical framework for mobile learning in this context. The rapid expansion of higher education in Saudi Arabia, coupled with the rapid increase in student numbers, is raising the need to find more effective ways to teach, reach and communicate with such a large student body. Mobile technology has been widely used in the context of Saudi higher education by both students and university teachers, but little is known about female students’ experiences of using mobile technology to support their learning. A better understanding of the context of mobile use in higher education in Saudi Arabia might help in exploiting the affordances of mobile technology for learning purposes and uses. As a contribution to innovations in Saudi higher education, this study explored mobile learning experiences of Saudi female students at one of the universities in Saudi Arabia, King Saud University. The study implemented a case study methodology and used a qualitative-led mixed methods design. A large-scale online survey of 7,865 female students provided information about the ownership and practices of mobile technology among higher education students; the extent of Internet access via mobile technology, as well as times, locations, and purposes of the use. The study also investigated the opportunities provided by mobile technology that enhance and foster learning experiences for higher education students through an in-depth investigation of 52 participants through personal diaries, group interviews and in-depth, semistructured interviews. The contribution to knowledge lays in the development of a theoretical framework for mobile learning to describe contemporary practices and experiences in Saudi higher education. Themes of mobile learners’ ubiquitous use, mobile learners’ movement, and mobile learners’ strategies for achieving learning goals emerged through the analysis. One major conclusion of the research is that, as a country with a gender segregated education system and very strong cultural demands on women, mobile learning enables Saudi females to negotiate their way through the different constraints, restrictions and boundaries that prevent or hinder them in their learning process, while maintaining their own cultural values, principles and traditions. The research concluded that the mobile learning framework, in the context of Saudi females in higher education, is about active learners showing their agency through appropriating tools and resources, crossing boundaries of contexts, and personalizing their learning with and through the use of their mobile technology as a cultural resource and boundary-crossing tool to accomplish learning tasks, purposes and goals.
Date of AwardMar 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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