Digital literacy in Saudi schools is on the rise

Half of Saudi students use computers in the classroom: Cambridge survey

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RIYADH — Half of students in Saudi Arabia now regularly use computers during lessons at school, according to a new survey by Cambridge International.

The Cambridge International Global Education Census was launched to understand how technology is shaping learning and teaching in the classroom and a day in the life of a student.

The study found that the huge growth in technology adoption in the classroom over recent years is revolutionizing the way students learn.

Half of Saudi students who responded to the survey said they regularly use a desktop computer during lessons. Almost 16.6 percent of students in Saudi Arabia said they use their smartphones as educational aids in lessons and 14 percent use tablets like an iPad. A small number (2 percent) also said robots are now regularly used in their classroom.

Interactive whiteboards are also now commonly used, with 50 percent of teachers saying they use these during lessons in Saudi Arabia. This is higher than in many other countries — including USA, China and Spain.

Apart from making learning more engaging and interactive, adopting technology in the classroom is also helping students prepare for their future careers in an increasingly digital world.

There is also growing interest in computer science, chemistry and mathematics especially among female students in Saudi Arabia, indicating a shift toward a knowledge-based economy that is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030. Some 55 percent of the students said they study computer science courses — higher than any other country surveyed — and 58 percent of those were female students.

Waseem Al-Hanbali, Cambridge regional director for Middle East and North Africa, said: “There has been a major thrust to integrate technology in the education sector to ensure that students are better equipped to enter the workforce and develop digital citizenship skills. There is also a shift in a number of markets around the world to embrace technology in the classroom so that work that is currently completed using pen and paper can move to laptop computers and other devices. This will go a long way in helping K12 students develop their digital skills and prepare them to become the digitally-aware citizens of tomorrow.”

Heba A. Rahman, senior academic coordinator at Orbit Academy in Al-Khobar, added: “The effective use of technology in education has changed the face of education and it has created more educational opportunities. Both teachers and students have benefited from various educational technologies, teachers have learned how to integrate technology in their classrooms and students are getting more interested in learning with technology. The use of technology in education has removed educational boundaries, both students and teachers can collaborate in real time using advanced educational technologies.”

Globally the study found that whilst newer technologies are now commonly used in many classrooms around the world, traditional tools still have their place in education. Globally, 82 percent of students still use a pen and paper in the classroom and 18 percent of teachers still use blackboards.

The majority of students surveyed spend between 1 to 3 hours every day doing homework. The Saudi students’ most favorite subjects are biology and physics. — SG


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