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Starring Saudi student Saeed collects awards for his research

Saeed Alshahrani
Riyadh: Award-winning paper Impact of web technologies on student-expert power relationship now wins an Excellence Award from the Saudi Cultural Bureau in the UK. THE internet, with its vast quantity of instantly available information, has had a massive impact on Higher Education. Now a Saudi-born researcher at the University of Huddersfield is investigating how the Web is altering the traditional relationship between students and their lecturers.

It is research that has global implications, and Saeed Alshahrani, who has been completing his PhD at Huddersfield, has earned a string of awards for his work.

The latest is an Excellence Award, bestowed annually by the Saudi Cultural Bureau in the UK. Saeed also earned an award for the best paper delivered at the Clute Institute in Florida, during an international conference held in March 2013. His paper, entitled Impact of web technologies on student-expert power relationship has been published by the journal Contemporary Issues in Education Research. 

Saeed also received an award for a paper delivered at a conference held in at the St. Ignatius College of Education in Palayamkottai, India. And he has contributed a chapter based on his research to a book named Human Factors in Software Development and Design, to be published in 2014.

His PhD research is supervised at the University of Huddersfield by Dr. Rupert Ward and follows on from a Master’s degree in Information Systems Management at the University of Huddersfield.

Saeed obtained his first qualifications, including a BSc via the Open University, in Saudi Arabia and began to teach computer science at college level. It was then that he noticed the educational impact of the internet. “The lecturer used to be the main source of information. Students would sit in the classroom and just listen to him,” said Saeed. “But now they can get information from somewhere else and I am looking at how this affects the relationship between students and lecturers.”

Although most university education remains focussed on the traditional format of the lecture, Saeed argues for changes in role of lecturers, with an emphasis on guiding students in the gathering and organisation of information.

He decided on the University of Huddersfield for research because it enabled him to place as much emphasis on technology as educational issues. Now he plans to continue as a post-doctoral researcher at Huddersfield, expanding the scope of his work.

To date, his research has focussed on Saudi Arabia but he has began to gather data from Kenya and now intends to explore the changing relationship between students and lecturers and the impact of the internet in the United States and the UK.

Dr Ward, who is the University’s Head of Informatics and Saeed’s PhD supervisor, said: “One of the fundamental shifts in education brought on by increased access to information from the web, has been a democratisation of learning, with students better able to access and use relevant content in their studies. Saeed’s work investigates this important change in learning, with his prolific research output being deservedly rewarded through the awards he has received.”

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