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Saudi Ministry of Education hosts e-learning conference

National Center for e-learning and Distance Learning holds fourth international gathering

The conference discussed the adoption e-learning in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
The conference discussed the adoption e-learning in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Education's has held its Fourth International Conference on e-learning and Distance Education, bringing together experts in the field to discuss how to improve education.

The event, which was organised by the Ministry's National Center for e-learning and Distance Learning, and hosted  educators, policy makers and digital developers to showcase the latest developments in e-learning and how these technologies can be used to enhance learning in the Kingdom.

Dr Rob Kadel, Head of the Washington-based Pearson Research and Innovation Network, gave a keynote address at the Conference. Dr Kadel focused on the benefits of digital learning and the potential for online or blended learning programs.

Riyadh's Princess Noura University has partnered with Pearson to provide 12,000 preparatory year students with IT and Math course content for tablet devices, as part of the University's efforts to build a world class digital learning environment for its students.

Dr Kadel told Conference participants: "e-learning holds great promise for students. However technology in itself is no panacea for the great challenges facing traditional education. If technology is used to merely maintain the status quo in teaching and learning, then we will see no great leaps forward in the education race. Technological solutions must be assessed according to the impact they have on improving learning outcomes, and learners' lives. Although millions of learners, in all parts of the world, are experiencing online learning, there is much work to be done before e-learning's potential to make education personalised, powerful and interactive is fully realised."

Kadel also spoke about the potential of social media and gamification for education technologies, to improve student engagement.

"Using games and social media to help students learn, engage and enjoy the learning process, is key to our modern technological breakthroughs making a real impact on educational enhancement. This is particularly true for Saudi Arabia, which has some of the highest mobile penetration rates, per capita, anywhere in the world. At around 73%, mobile penetration in Saudi Arabia is significantly higher than in the USA or UK. The question is, how do we translate these statistics into improved outcomes for learners? We need to give educators the skills and the confidence to embrace the new opportunities that come with digital innovation, and help them find practical ways of exploiting these innovations in the classroom".