International eLearning Experts Gather in Riyadh for eLearning Event

Social media and digital gaming can be used to promote learning

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 6th, 2015 – The Ministry of Education’s National Center for e-Learning and Distance Learning has held its Fourth International Conference on eLearning and Distance Education. The event brought together some of the world’s leading e-Learning researchers and educators, to discuss ways in which new digital technologies can promote quality education in Saudi Arabia, and further afield.

Dr Rob Kadel, Head of the Washington-based Pearson Research and Innovation Network, gave a keynote address at the Conference. Dr Kadel called on educators, policy makers and digital developers to help ensure the digital learning technologies being employed in classrooms were those with the greatest impact on improving student outcomes.

Dr Kadel’s message has particular relevance for Saudi Arabia, where eLearning is becoming increasingly common in higher education institutions. Across the Kingdom, universities are turning to new technology to help increase the availability of online or blended learning options for students, and to simplify institutions’ administration and assessment processes. 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: “eLearning 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 eLearning’s potential to make education personalised, powerful and interactive is fully realised.”

Dr Kadel is well known for his research in the field of learning enhancement through social media and gamification. He believes that when used appropriately, these technologies have the power to become ‘game changers’ in education – engaging students of all levels and backgrounds in effective and meaningful learning.

“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 percent, 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”.

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