Although distance education is offered in many academic institutions, specifically universities, in most of the developed countries, utilizing it as a part of the educational system in the Middle East is still in the development stage and not at the same stage as Western and European countries. Of the institutions in the Middle East that have started utilizing distance education, many face difficulties, an example of which is that these distance programs are not accredited by the educational system in the country. In turn, this leads to other problems for graduates of these distance programs, such as inability to find a job or inability to go for a higher education degree.
As the faculty members of the universities in the Middle East represent a strong and an effective part of the education stake holders in the Middle East, this study investigates their attitudes toward the use of distance education in Middle Eastern universities. A comparison between the attitudes of the faculty members in the Middle East and faculty members in the United States was conducted.
The study involved 139 faculty members from the Middle East, who live and work in Yemen, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain; and 126 participants from the United States, who work at various universities. To investigate their attitudes toward the use of distance education, a web-based survey was created in two versions, Arabic and English, and a link to it was sent out to participants via email.
The study results showed negative attitudes of Middle Eastern faculty members in the use of technology, culture and social, economic, location, policies, educational, academic achievement and availability of distance education tools factors. When compared to the faculty members in the USA, Middle Eastern faculty members showed more negative attitudes toward the use of distance education.