Online Pandemic: Challenges of EFL Faculty in the Design and Implementation of Online Teaching Amid the Covid-19 Outbreak

Document Type : research article


English Language Department, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, University of Birjand, Birjand, Iran


Due to the outbreak of the Corona-virus pandemic, virtual classes have become the cornerstone of education all around the world including Iran. Being an obligatory transition and the only option university professors have to continue education with, online teaching is accompanied with particular challenges which have not been experienced before and need to be investigated. This research intends to explore the challenges that EFL faculty faced in the design and delivery of online courses during the Covid-19 outbreak and seek probable solutions to those challenges. The data for the study included messages posted to the backup team over an entire academic semester which provide a live, naturalistic, and in-the-moment representation of faculty’s perceptions and challenges. The data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis method for recurring themes and taxonomies that the postings represented. Analysis of the results revealed 6 categories of challenges the target faculty members faced in their online instruction: technical problems, concerns about exam safety and validity, the need for policies, planning, and regulations, faculty’s adaptability struggles, pedagogical challenges, and challenges related to students such as inadequate distribution of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) infrastructure, lack of self-motivation, lack of interaction and the possibility of their isolation, and inadequate computer literacy skills. The findings are then discussed with reference to the solutions offered in the literature to remedy those barriers. This study provides implications for faculty’s professional development programs and support services as well as policy making and planning for future online courses.


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