The Development of Online Distance Education in Saudi Arabia
There have been substantial technological developments in the modern digital world across all the industries. The education sector is no different and has undergone many advances in technology and methods of learning. Online distance education has revolutionized the educational experience for both students and teachers. It has provided more flexibility especially during the time of Coronavirus pandemic and offered constant opportunities for learning.
The Development of Online Distance Education in Saudi Arabia:
- Online distance education was introduced much before the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across many regions in Saudi Arabia. The epidemic has enforced educational institutions across the globe to embrace e-learning to keep the continuity of the education process.
- The General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training (GOTEVOT) in Saudi Arabia built an e-learning training and resources center in 2002. It offers infinite learning with an e-library of around 50,000 books and 3,000 training programs. There was also an establishment of an e-learning center in the leadership of Academic Development at King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) in 2003. It offered unified access to online resources with the support of web course tools. KFUPM included around 80 courses both in Arabic and English languages across topics like science, engineering, Industrial Management, etc.
- In the next years, Saud Arabia devoted to the infrastructure required for Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Due to this development, there was a significant increase in the number of internet users and helped both students and educators. The robust and quick improvements of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure aided in drastic enhancements in education. Later, the Education Ministry of Saudi Arabia included advanced technology in all the academic projects. This enabled the major universities in Saudi Arabia to offer a suitable practice for all the courses. Later, the Education Ministry of Saudi Arabia established the National Centre for E-learning and Distance Learning in 2007.
- The major aim of this Centre was to simplify and allow the incorporation of modern technology in higher educational organizations. The Ministry also inspires universities and educational institutions to make use of modern tools in teaching. This is done by forming able leadership at every public university for Online distance education. These appointed leaders will carry several seminars for all other educators in e-learning. Such practices will help them to successfully assimilate technology in encouraging the students to mingle with the online learning topics.
- There are a significant number of Saudi citizens between 15 and 24 ages that always puts the burden on higher educational centers. This causes a decrease in the quality of education due to the overcrowded classroom setting. Therefore, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Higher Education has always stressed the importance of information and communications technology (ICTs). This has to be done at all levels of education as it is very important to reach students in all regions. E-learning has been readily employed by the Saudi Arabian government as an alternative method of learning and also to conduct exams.
E-learning during the outbreak of COVID-19 in Saudi Arabia:
- Saudi Arabia ordered the closure of all types of industries and educational industries with the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic. E-learning was encouraged in existing implemented schools and several stimulating measures were taken to include beginners of online education. school.sa was launched by the Ministry of Education to promote virtual classroom education.
- One of the biggest private school centers in Saudi Arabia, Ma’arif for Education and Training was able to implement the ideas successfully. Arab News had reported that its initial e-learning classes for 3 days involved keen interest from around 15000 students. 8560 live online sessions were conducted through the regular school hours.
- Dr. Noura Al-Marri, the vice-chairperson of the Shoura Council’s Educational Committee, spoke to Arab News. He told “This technology is of great importance to ensure that the students’ time is not wasted due to the recent developments. We should adopt this technique, benefit from the communication infrastructure, and activate all e-learning means. Students should trust their abilities in the self-learning process and take advantage of the time, while not neglecting the importance of the educational environment”.
Challenges faced for online distance education in Saudi Arabia:
One of the major challenges faced by the Saudi Arabia government is its capability to meet the educational requirements of the increasing population. This has encouraged the government to have a substitute system that may work well with comprehensive planning. During the last 2 decades, the population of Saudi Arabia has doubled. The biggest challenge is the lack of quality educators, especially at the higher education stages. As the educational institutions across the cities in the country have become hugely populated, classrooms become crowded. Educators have been forced to work more than their capabilities. This has led to difficulty in providing quality education and parents are worried about their child’s education in cities. Regardless of the optimal educational sector financial schemes, lack of quality educators is a matter of concern for KSA. But there is large support from the governments of the US and UK for developing a collaborative e-learning system in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Arabia government is making all possible efforts to connect every region of the country with e-learning facilities. It involves a robust plan to appeal to the global advanced companies that are experts in advanced technologies. The government is stimulating them to involve technical capabilities of regional faculties and also local content in information technology. Developments in technology have made online distance learning a more accessible choice for all types of students. But to ensure that every student earns the benefit of this e-learning, there must be the availability of affordable technologies. This is only possible with reliable and expert mobile app development companies in Saudi Arabia like Brill Mindz. The company is well-versed in developing e-learning tools and have built them for both government and private organizations. We ensure the optimal use of technology and also aid in earning significant revenue for the clients.