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INVESTIGATING QASSIM UNIVERSITY EFL INTENSIVE COURSE PROGRAM INSTRUCTORS’ PERSPECTIVES TOWARDS UTILIZING BLACKBOARD COLLABORATE AS AN EMERGENCY REMOTE TEACHING TOOL DURING THE 2020–2021 COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Mustafa Elsayed

Abstract: Purpose: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic caused a sudden shift to online teaching and learning which resulted in confusion for higher education institutions not only in Saudi Arabia, but worldwide as well. Due to the broad availability of technology infrastructure in Saudi higher education institutions, Blackboard Collaborate is widely used in most Saudi universities. As positive perspectives were found to play an important impact in the adoption of new technology in earlier research, this paper aims to investigate Qassim University EFL Intensive Course Program (ICP) instructors’ perspectives towards utilizing the Blackboard Collaborate as an emergency remote teaching tool during COVID-19 pandemic. Design/methodology/approach: To collect data from the participants, the study employed a qualitative research method, namely, semi-structured interviews with 15 ICP EFL instructors. The interviews were face to face and included predetermined questions that focused on the pros and cons of utilizing Blackboard Collaborate as a remote teaching tool during Covid-19 pandemic. Findings: The study revealed the pros and cons of using the Blackboard Collaborate as a remote teaching tool during COVID-19 pandemic as perceived by ICP EFL instructors. While the pros included novel teaching methods in Blackboard Collaborate, offering interactive lessons via using Blackboard Collaborate, and a great deal of motivation resulted from using Blackboard Collaborate, the cons comprised ICP EFL instructors’ lack of competency in using Blackboard Collaborate, students’ lack of competency in using Blackboard Collaborate, and technical problems. Originality/value: Most literature published on using Blackboard Collaborate in the Saudi higher education context focused on using it in teaching EFL advanced learners with prior experience with Blackboard Collaborate. To my knowledge, this is the first paper to investigate the participants' perspectives towards using the Blackboard Collaborate in teaching secondary school leavers without prior experience with Blackboard Collaborate like ICP EFL students.
Keywords: Saudi higher education / Blackboard Collaborate / instructors / EFL / teaching / INTENSIVE COURSE

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