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Technology can improve education in region: expert

Middle East Business

A top researcher has said that digital technology has the potential to improve educational outcomes in the Middle East, if implemented properly.

Dr Kimberly O’Malley, who leads the Washington DC based Pearson Research and Innovation Network, was speaking at Ta’leem 2016, Saudi Arabia’s fifth annual International Exhibition and Forum for Education.

Dr O’Malley believes that technology can help drive learner outcomes, if tools are carefully selected, used in ways that support learning theory, and implementation is accompanied by appropriate training for educators.

“Our current generation of post-secondary learners are digital natives. Their understanding and use of digital devices can be beneficial in improving their educational performance. However, the type of digital tools selected, teacher training for their optimal use, and their role in supporting instruction needs to be carefully managed. Best practice would be to gather evidence to show that the ways we deploy technology have a proven impact on teaching and learning before widespread implementation,” she said.

Research from Dr O’Malley’s team at the Research & Innovation Network suggests that technology can have the following benefits for both teachers and learners:

-          increasing access to learning resources

-          enhancing communication and feedback

-          restructuring teacher time

-          extending the purpose and audience for student work; and

-          shifting teacher and student roles

Despite the strong focus of GCC governments to increase the use of digital technology in schools, Dr O’Malley says that the uptake of technology in schools has not always translated into improvements in learner outcomes.

She said: “The team at the Research & Innovation Network has undertaken in-depth research over a number of years to examine the role digital technology can play in improving education. Our research has shown that it is not always the case that the effects of digital education trump more traditional classroom instruction. Putting technology into classrooms is not enough to drive meaningful change. To realise the benefits of educational technology, we need to equip teachers with strategies that have proven to be beneficial in driving learning outcomes. Teacher training and professional development are key, as well as buy-in from school leaders and the wider community.”

Ta’leem 2016 is being held from April 12-16 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre (RICEC). – TradeArabia News Service


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