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Peer-Review Record

An Exploratory Study of the Obstacles for Achieving Quality in Distance Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(9), 232;
Reviewer 1: Anonymous
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Reviewer 3: Palitha Edirisingha
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(9), 232;
Received: 17 August 2020 / Revised: 30 August 2020 / Accepted: 1 September 2020 / Published: 3 September 2020

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

The topic is very interesting because of the current situation. However the scope is narrow and the "statistical" analysis is not too deep. It is valid as a first approach to understand the perception of instructors and students. 

The concept of "quality" managed in the paper seems to be a subjective concept along the respondents, so that each student/teacher will have a different idea, or personal perception, about what quality means.

The questionnaire seems to be made of open questions, and a final list of obstacles is produced. Authors should give a hint on how they have processed the open answers, for example, attaching the questionnaire (if not too long) as an appendix, and giving a few of the open answers and their translation into the final categories.

The statistical analysis reduces to frequencies and orderings. Why not some correlations or statistical implicative analysis (association rules) in order to get clusters of obstables or relations among obstacles?

In any case, the paper represents useful information, interesting for education staff and managers in order to make future decisions.

With respect to the formal part, I highlight a list of minor changes that should be considered:


Line 10: delete the parenthesis after "convenient."

Line 29: "One of the Arab researchers". Please put the reference citation again, and optionally identify the researcher.

Line 96: Girik (please add the citation number as general citations in the paper).

Line 139: The sentence is hard to read. I propose a new rewriting, if the authors agree that the meaning is the same: "We have had a large sample that was collected after the distribution of questionnaires among a convenient selection of professors and students from different universities as describe below:"

Line 140: delete the parenthesis after "convenient."

Line 153: "Chinese?" I am not sure this is the right word, but I admit I could not see the reference to check it. I just ask the authors to make sure it is the word they want to put.

Line 159: Holmberg (1977) is not listed in the reference list. Although it seems that the quotation is taken from reference [22], it would be fair to include the Holmberg reference.

Line 219: right justification is not aligned.

Line 249: "The questionnaires were send" or "The questionnaire was send", but not "The questionnaire were send."

Line 263: "Obstacles categories". When a word acts as adjective, I have never seen it in the plural form, it is placed in singular form. I am not 100% English, so I suggest to ask for professional advice. Please check it in many instances along the paper.

Line 264: "to achieving"? Verbs after preposition "to" go generally in the infinitive form (gerund form after other prepositions such as "for", "by", etc.). Please check all along the paper since I have founf many instances of this form. I am not 100% English, so I suggest to ask for professional advice. 

Line 278: "Corona virus pandemic" (add "virus").

Line 320: citation Alumari et al. (2016) is not in the general form of citations.

Line 324: citation Hamdan (2007) [34] is not in the general form of citations (the year is superfluous).

Line 372: please supress the sentence " achieving quality in distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic..." since it is superfluous (mentioned right before).

Line 392: "compared to."

Line 405: "Moodle."

Lines 442 and 445: it seems that both reference share some of the authors, but their initials are not exactly the same. In that case, please correct.

Line 456: put the year in bold font.

Lines 482-483: it seems that "Al-" should pass from line 482 to line 483.

Line 495: symbol "&" is only used in this reference. It should be placed in all or in non multiauthor references?

Line 514: the year is placed twice. Supress the misplaced one.

Author Response

Hello Dear

I would like to thank both the assistant editor Vivien and the external editor for their attention and great work for our article.

Thanks so much for the third reviewer for his comments and question.

The study is exploratory; it explores the reality of a new phenomenon on society. Therefore, the authors confined themselves to quantifying data in the form of repetitions and percentages, which meet the approved research method.

The study addresses the perspective of the respondents (professors / students), and thus explores their perceptions about the meaning of quality in light of the global pandemic.

Respondents were monitored, the selection (repetitions) of each response was counted, and then the percentage of repetitions compared to the sample number was calculated.

The study did not address these correlations because it does not search for the causes of the phenomenon; rather it is limited to identifying the obstacles to achieving the quality of distance learning in specific areas (subjective, pedagogical, etc). Then it highlighted the differences in the teachers and students opinion about these obstacles in order.

We 'the authors' have considered all what you have commented and then corrected them one by one and in the entire text in the manuscript file.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

The obstacles in distance learning you have pointed in the paper are absolutely real, not only in the Arab countries, which makes the article helpful for distance teachers / learners all over the world. It is also in accordance with my personal experience.

Still, in the enclosed file, you can find my comments and markings (done via Adobe Reader) regarding the most obvious mistakes done in the text and tables 2 and 3, such as: mixing decimal notation with percentage values, not sufficiently described table headers and common percentage value for professors and students, that in my view should be given separately.

In the introduction you write a lot of repetitive paragraphs regarding the objective and, in fact, it can be written in one.

Please, check the grammar once again.

Comments for author File: Comments.pdf

Author Response

Hello Dear

Thank you so much for your valuable comments and advices (from two reviewers) that make this article much improved.

We  'the authors' have considered all what you have commented on our article and then were all corrected one by one and put in the entire text in one file and then cleared in the other file including all corrections.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 3 Report

Proofread the article for accuracy of English. I have highlighted some places where words or sentences need to be corrected.

Remove the word accidentally from the abstract the rest of the paper. The word conventionally is adequate to explain the sampling method.

  1. Introduction

Indicate which countries were involved in your study. Which regions or countries are you referring to when you refer to Arab countries.

Revise the introduction. Remove text rom line 19 – 39 (first word). These sentences are not quite relevant to the topic covered. So start the introduction section with the sentence “Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, educators 39 have been forced to shift to online teaching through e-learning systems [3,4].”

Write the rest of the introduction chapter to show the link between what you are writing and the demands placed on higher education institutions due to Covid 19 pandemic.

Write a clear section about the context where you write about the distance education and online teaching in Arab world. Here try to draw from literature on distance education and try to identify similarities and differences between ‘normal’ distance education and distance education during pandemic which is really an emergency measure.

  • Major questions for the study


Line 121 – 133.  Objectives. Move this section on Objectives just  after the first paragraph under sub section 1.1.. This means write the objectives before writing about the research questions.

Lines 142 – 166. Sub-section 1.4 Terminology used in this study. You don’t need to include a separate section called terminology used in this study. Instead, please incorporate this into Main section 2 (Theoretical framework). This will help you avoid repetitions, eg., on distance education.

Lines 221 -  246. Characteristics of the distance learning system. Write this section as several paragraphs, rather than lists of bullet points. End this section by writing a short paragraph to highlight the specific focus of your study.

Line 247. Sub-section 2.2. Rename this as ‘Research methodology’ or ‘Research approach’

Line 251. Write a sentences to explain how did you send the questionnaire to professors and students. Did you use an online survery method? How did you select which professors and students to contact asking them to complete the quesionnaires. A simple explantioan is enough here.

Line 258. The paragraph is not cleat as to how you used open questions. Would you be able to explain the structure of the questionnaire please?

Line 274. Table 2. I am not clear what you mean by the headings of the table ‘professors repetition’, etc. And what do the percentages represent?

From Line 276. This explanation is also not clear. So is the data in Table 3.

Discussion section. This section can be improved after addressing the questions about data and tables above. 

Line 395. Conclusions. Can you please think about your data analysis and the research questions and come up with some unique set of conclusions that can be firmly based on your data analysis in relation to Arab context. This will make a significant contribution to our understanding of distance learning in Arab during a pandemic.


Author Response

Hello Dear

Thank you so much for your valuable comments and advices (from two reviewers) that make this article much improved.

We  'the authors' have considered all what you have commented on our article and then were all corrected one by one and put in the entire text in one file and then cleared in the other file including all corrections.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

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