As Saudi Arabia realises its long-term goals of improving literacy and school attendance rates, embedding e-learning in Saudi schools and universities is fast becoming the next major education challenge for the country.
Saudi Arabia has achieved remarkable improvements in education over recent years, with literacy hitting an all-time high of 96 per cent, and 99 per cent of school-age children in the Kingdom now attending school. With basic education indicators firmly on a pathway of success, education experts are now looking to e-learning as the next focus of Saudi Arabia’s education policy.
Establishing e-learning as the norm in Saudi educational institutions is already well underway. Higher education institutions have undergone major changes in recent years, as they offer blended learning options, moving away from entirely face-to-face delivery. Digital learning tools, such as e-texts and online learning systems are becoming increasingly common in universities throughout the country.
The Kingdom’s burgeoning e-learning capability was the focus of the recent conference hosted by the Saudi National Centre for E-Learning and Distance Learning and King Khalid University. The theme of the conference was “Development and Shareability in E-Learning” and brought together e-learning deans from universities across Saudi Arabia and around the world. Leading international experts in education technology discussed the latest innovations in digital education, and how they can be leveraged to improve the learning outcomes of Saudi tertiary students.
A speaker at the conference, Dr Jeff Borden, Pearson’s Vice President of Instruction and Academic Strategy and Lead at the Centre of Online Learning, has had global experience in designing e-learning programmes for learning institutions. Dr Borden believes that entrenching a culture of e-learning in higher education is also critical to the Saudi government’s goal of achieving a diversified, knowledge-based economy.
“Saudi Arabia’s commitment to improving education has led to significant gains in the country’s key education indicators. According to data from the World Bank and the OECD, illiteracy in Saudi Arabia has fallen to below 4 per cent and more and more school leavers are now entering higher education. The country is now in an excellent position to continue to build on these significant educational and associated economic gains by harnessing the power of digital learning solutions”.
“International research demonstrates that the dissemination of e-learning technology in universities contributes meaningfully to the development of knowledge-based economies. This is in part because e-learning helps more people engage in higher levels of learning as historical learning constraints such as distance or lack of time are broken down. E-learning also fosters the skills necessary in the development and building of a knowledge-based economy, which in turn leads to growth in productivity, entrepreneurship, and competitiveness. By embracing e-learning solutions, Saudi universities are therefore contributing to the long-term prosperity of the country as a whole.”
Mohammed Asiri, Pearson’s Country Manager in Saudi Arabia, believes that the educational technology adopted by universities there will be effective in improving student learning outcomes and lead to tangible improvements in institutions’ results.
“Pearson has been working closely with a number of tertiary institutions across the country to assist in achieving a sustainable transformation to technology-enabled education. Pearson is dedicated to providing the right expertise and infrastructure for the availability, shareability, and re-useability of quality learning systems and content. We are helping universities embrace the e-learning revolution, and thereby helping to ensure that today’s students are equipped with the skills necessary to thrive in Saudi Arabia’s increasingly technology-reliant workplaces”.