Online Learning Standards for Higher Education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 2020


These regulations were approved by the decision of the Board of Directors of the National eLearning Center No. (2/5/41) dated 21/12/1441 AH, based on The Mandates of the Center issued by the Council of Ministers No. (35) on 13/1/1439 AH


All rights reserved to the National eLearning Center 2020



Executive Summary:

These standards were developed based on the Council of Ministers Resolution No. (35), dated 13/1/1439 AH, to establish the National eLearning Center.  The third article of the regulation requires, the Center to develop regulations and quality standards for higher education institutions, taking into account the integration of the standards of the Education and Training Evaluation Commission.  These standards were built according to a study of the best-known international standards; beneficiaries’ opinions were surveyed, and workshops for educational officials were held, with standards judged by local and global experts in online learning and training.  The standards’ final version consists of two main parts. The first, institution standards, includes leadership, technology, training and support.  It consists of twenty-seven sub-standards.  The second part, program standards, consists of four standards: design, interaction, equity and accessibility, and assessment and evaluation.  It contains thirty-nine sub-standards.  The sub-standards are also divided into compulsory basic (licensing) and advanced (quality control).



This document is a guide to quality control standards in higher education institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Practices applied by these entities will measure the degree of achievement of these standards.  To achieve the principle of gradual development, the standards are divided into two levels: basic and advanced, based on their degree of importance and the need to measure the practice over the time period. In light of this, licenses are granted to institutions that wish to provide online learning programs.  As the only legislative body approved in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to control the quality of online learning and online training practices, the National eLearning Center is responsible for updating these standards and regulations periodically in cooperation with the relevant authorities in the kingdom.  The Center also benefits from the best international practices and grants licenses that ensure the continuous achievement of standards for controlling the quality of online learning of all its types and styles.  It also undertakes control and measurement work to achieve quality, using the mechanisms, models, and tools that the Center builds for this purpose. In addition, some of these may require giving the National eLearning Center access to any information or performance indicators required by the higher education institutions.


  1. Standards (for institutions):




Leading the quality of online learning in each department to the board of directors of the learning institution responsible for its governance in order to achieve the strategic and operational goals in light of the mission and vision of that institution.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Publishing an online learning strategy approved by a competent authority and consistent with the institution’s plan.




Committing to achieving academic integrity within the online learning environment and preventing fraud and identity theft.



Ensuring that the electronic content presented in the program is up-to-date and that it does not violate national laws and policies.



Adhering to the principles of intellectual property rights and copyrights.



Considering concurrent online attendance through virtual classes as equivalent to regular attendance.



Providing a mechanism to measure the level of satisfaction of the online learning program beneficiaries.



Managing resources in a responsible manner that is consistent with the budget regulations and accounting principles.




Ensuring resources and their support are adequate and sustainable over time, in accordance with the institution’s strategic plan, vision, and mission.







Providing high-quality online learning systems, including admission and registration systems and any other learning tools or software.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Providing the necessary technical infrastructure to implement the online learning programs.



Ensuring the privacy of the beneficiaries’ data through clearly formulated policies and procedures.



Providing a single sign-on (SSO) for online learning systems.




Providing identity verification systems.



Providing learning management systems (LMSs), virtual classes, and electronic tests.



Providing data analysis systems and the ability to track learner-peer, learner-content, and learner-faculty interactions.




Ensuring the systems support various types of devices with different operating systems and screen sizes, including smartphones and tablets.



Providing online learning system applications for smartphones.




Providing an ongoing electronic alert system to notify the learner of the required tasks.



Ensuring the systems provide a search feature for various types of e-content.



Ensuring the systems provide access to people with disabilities.






Training and Support

Practices related to developing faculties and learners to help them achieve their tasks in the online learning field.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Ensuring the educational institution provides an orientation program to equip the learner with technological and training skills in online learning environments.



Ensuring the faculty receives adequate training in technology usage, e-content development, and online teaching skills.



Providing a portal that includes manuals, support, and training in all online delivery models for learners and faculty.



Providing clear instructions on technical support for the learners and faculty and how to access it.



Ensuring that the learners and faculty receive the necessary technical and educational assistance throughout the program.



Enabling people with disabilities to access all online learning and online training services.




Providing technicians and administrators, and identifying their roles and responsibilities.



Providing a supervisory staff over the academic environment.



  1. Standards (for programs):




Practices related to designing e-courses or using ready-made courses licensed by learning service providers.  The aim is to achieve competencies and goals that are linked to various course activities, including tests, discussion, research, submissions, and other requirements for measuring learning objectives within the e-course, and for continuous evaluation and improvement.  This standard also includes all practices related to the resources linked to the e-course materials and provided by the learning institution or other open educational resources (OER).

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Setting clear objectives for the e-content.



Following fixed standard designs and structure for all units and pages.



Adherence to Universal Design for Learning (UDL).




Chunking the e-content into reusable learning objects.



Adhering to WCAG 2.0 Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) or the current version.




Ensuring design of the e-content is in compliance with the Experience API (xAPI) standards.




Providing e-content in various forms (text, audio, and visual materials) that meet the learners’ needs.



Providing the design, media, and fonts used, with their various sizes, colors, and formats, in a way that facilitates reading and reduces fatigue.



Ensuring the quality of the educational and training media that are embedded and providing transcriptions.



Providing a downloadable copy of all e-content used within the e-course, and it should be used in accordance with the intellectual property rights.




Providing an adequate percentage of the e-course content as open educational resources (OER).



Displaying the e-content in an organized manner that facilitates accessibility.



Presenting the content in a variety of ways, supported by different activities.




Providing the learner the ability to evaluate and comment on the e-content.






Practices related to active learning, learner participation, the learner-faculty relationship, and the extent of engagement with the educational and learning activities in the course.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Providing adequate instructions on how to start using the e-course, overviewing the communication policy, and defining the main sections and starting point.



Providing a timetable for all steps expected of the learner to implement during each e-unit and the required content and tools for each step.



Providing diversity in the use of synchronous and asynchronous online learning.




Providing an ongoing mechanism to answer learners’ questions and to offer feedback on the tasks accomplished.



Providing a self-assessment that enables the learners to check their progress in learning and to offer feedback.



Providing a technical mechanism to measure the interactions and engagement of the learners during online learning.





Equity and Accessibility

Practices related to accessibility and learning, the use of online learning programs, tools, and technologies by higher education institutions, and what is offered in terms of learning resources, knowledge exchange, interaction, and communication.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Determining the minimum level of knowledge, technical skills, and competencies required of learners and faculty.



Ensuring that all learners, with varying ability levels, have equitable access to the program.



Providing accessible technologies with an explanation of how to obtain them.



Presenting the content using multiple audiovisual methods.






Assessment and Evaluation

Practices that enable learners to monitor their performance and enable faculty to measure that performance, analyze learners’ needs to adapt teaching methods, and measure the progress of the learning process through different evaluation and feedback methods.

Compulsory Basic (licensing)

Advanced (quality control)


Choosing tools for measuring learning objectives to suit the activities and resources of the e-content.



Clarifying the evaluation policy for the e-courses.



Providing specific and descriptive standards related to the grading policy to assess the learners’ work and participation.




Providing multiple assessment tools that are appropriate for the learning activities being evaluated.



Providing multiple opportunities for learners to measure their progress.



Conducting continuous internal evaluations based on national standards according to the program level.




Evaluating continuous improvement by measuring learners’ achievement and satisfaction through reliable methods.




Scheduling regular internal evaluation of results of national tests designed to measure learners’ achievement.




Evaluating faculty and employees continuously, through clear policies and procedures, to ensure the quality of learning.



Reviewing and evaluating e-courses continuously to ensure their quality.




Conducting regular external evaluations by qualified bodies.




Providing stakeholders (in the program) with the results of the evaluation.



Providing a mechanism to measure beneficiaries’ (learners, faculty) online learning satisfaction.



Providing a mechanism to measure the impact of online learning on learning outcomes.




Providing a mechanism to measure the efficiency of spending that resulted from online learning.