Saudi education sector switches to virtual classrooms  

Saudi education sector switches to virtual classrooms  
Schools were closed in Saudi Arabia due to Coronavirus. (AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2020

Saudi education sector switches to virtual classrooms  

Saudi education sector switches to virtual classrooms  
  • Education offices in all regions have been asked to carry out the implementation

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia is ensuring the continuation of education through digital learning methods after closing public schools due to the coronavirus.

The Kingdom already has an advanced integrated online education system in many of its universities. Now authorities are taking measures to expand that system to make up for the closure of schools.

Education offices in all regions have been asked to carry out the implementation, support and supervision of distant-learning operations.

“The health situation facing the world pushed the Kingdom to use the learning alternatives and accelerate the e-learning process through its known and accredited platforms,” Dr. Noura Al-Marri, vice chairperson of the Shoura Council’s Educational Committee, told Arab News. 

“Integrated and remote education was one of the proposed plans before the spread of the coronavirus. The emergency events helped with its implementation despite the fact that some peripheral regions do not have the necessary components of a fast and effective communication.” 

“This technology is of great importance to ensure that the students’ time is not wasted due to the recent developments. We should adapt this technique, benefit from the communication infrastructure and activate all e-learning means,” Al-Marri said. 

“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,” she said. 

The Ministry of Education has directed the workflow in virtual classrooms during the period of school closure through Vschool.sa and to benefit from the digital materials found on the website and the mobile application available for Android and Apple under the title “Unified Educational System.” 

Dr. Ali Al-Ammari, assistant professor at the College of Computing and Informatics at the Saudi Electronic University, told Arab News: “Many researchers consider remote e-learning to be the future of education.” 

“Remote e-learning is not limited to lessons taught by the teachers through platforms. Students can take part in several activities that can enrich their learning experience,” Al-Ammari said, noting that “in addition to simultaneous virtual lessons attended by students and teachers at the same time, there are other lessons that students can watch, pause and watch again at any time.” 

“The new technique also features activities that allow students to interact in the presence of their teacher or even in his absence. Such activities aim to promote the students’ understanding of a certain concept and provide them with the opportunity to discuss and benefit from each other.” 

“The remote e-learning platforms present various tools to measure and evaluate the extent to which students are understanding the lessons such as short tests, electronic assignments and blogs. If used properly, these tools can identify a student’s strong and weak points,” he said. 

“The artificial intelligence and big data revolution made it possible to track and analyze the students’ various activities on the platform and use them to provide a learning style that meets the different needs of each student,” Al-Ammari said. 

Adeeb Al-Soby, educational technology professor at King Saud University, told Arab News: “The learning process needs a strong Internet and modern devices such as mobile phones and iPads because remote learning requires effective learning platforms for video files, audio files, chats, shares and homework.” 

“Communication companies are responsible for providing high-speed Internet services in light of the current situation, which stressed the importance of remote learning,” Al-Soby said. “The Kingdom is a leading country in this field as the Saudi Electronic University, King Saud University, King Abdul Aziz University, King Faisal University and many others have a complete remote-learning infrastructure.”