University of Oulu

Rehman, M.A., Soroya, S.H., Abbas, Z., Mirza, F. and Mahmood, K. (2021), "Understanding the challenges of e-learning during the global pandemic emergency: the students’ perspective", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 29 No. 2/3, pp. 259-276.

Understanding the challenges of e-learning during the global pandemic emergency : the students’ perspective

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Author: Rehman, Mohsin Abdur1; Soroya, Saira Hanif2; Abbas, Zuhair3;
Organizations: 1Department of Marketing, Management and International Business, Oulu Business School, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Institute of Information Management, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan
3Department of Business Administration, Tomas Bata University in Zlin, Zlin, Czech Republic
4Knowledge Unit of Business, Economics, Accountancy, and Commerce, University of Management and Technology, Sialkot Campus, Sialkot, Pakistan
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.9 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-28


Purpose: This study aims to debate and highlight the challenges faced by university students regarding e-learning during the global pandemic emergency. Furthermore, it sketches the solutions of e-learning using a theoretical lens of emergency management theory (EMT). Finally, the study argues a case for improvement in existing e-learning systems to enable higher education systems, particularly in a developing country, to recover the losses and increase education quality.

Design/methodology/approach: A qualitative research design and phenomenology research approach were applied to conduct the current study. A total of 10 in-depth online interviews were recorded from students studying in Pakistan and the UK. Verbatim transcriptions were analysed using the reflexive thematic analysis approach.

Findings: The current study results explained in detail the numerous challenges, including lack of preparedness (students and institutions), low quality of interaction, lack of motivation, lack of class activities and forceful adoption of e-learning. Alternatively, few opportunities also emerged through a set of suggestions such as a comprehensive emergency management plan, introduction of strong student counselling programmes and a strategic plan for quality of online learning content.

Originality/value: This study’s contribution stands out in crucial times of the global pandemic. EMT is applied to understand the different dimensions of preparedness, response, mitigation and recovery from a students’ perspective. Furthermore, considering students as important members of higher education institutions and understanding students’ opinions regarding quality assurance during the global pandemic was imperative.

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Series: Quality assurance in education
ISSN: 0968-4883
ISSN-E: 1758-7662
ISSN-L: 0968-4883
Volume: 29
Issue: 2-3
Pages: 259 - 276
DOI: 10.1108/QAE-02-2021-0025
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.