Education Minister Prince Faisal bin Abdullah, right, and Azzam Al-Dakhil, left
Riyadh - Arabstoday
Professor Emeritus John M. Keller of Florida State University reaffirmed on Monday at the high-profile 2nd International Exhibition and Forum on Education (IEFE) that the shift toward knowledge-based learning
systems means knowledge is viewed more as a tool than a repository of information with a greater emphasis on the development of attitudes and skills that enable learners to become more self-directed and in charge of their own knowledge development.
He said this has several implications for the design of learning environments, including a personal obligation for learning. Students must acquire “how to learn” skills if they do not already have them. Also, they must be motivated to be self-directed learners. Keller was talking about the transition to a knowledge society.
According to organizers, more than 5,000 visitors and participants attended the first day of the event with a sizeable participation of Saudi women.
Keller added: “Virtual classrooms and digital learning environments are essential for the growth of knowledge society. Similarly, utilization of technology is an important component of a knowledge-based system. Learning systems must provide these learning and organizational structures.”
He said that being able to judge the validity and utility of information, people using the Web must acquire digital literacy, which means that they have to learn how to validate the information that they accept and use. Keller explained that the web contains a vast amount of information and virtually none of it can meet any criteria for truth and validity. This is because anybody can post anything they wish and present it as facts or the results of research.
On the subject of instant learning and performance support, Keller said electronic performance support systems (EPSS) is a must. An EPSS is a computer-based system that provides virtually all the tools and support that enable a person to achieve a high level of performance. This can be a highly effective system to use in a knowledge-based learning environment. It provides many capabilities to the individual teacher and student, and also facilitates collaboration among people.
In the second session, Dr. Sufean Hussin said in Malaysia students don’t bring school bags to classes. They have everything available on their electronic device. The professor shared his country’s experience in transforming the educational system into more knowledge-based system, but remained in its culture and ideology scope.
“We have all aspects of learning in Holy Qur’an, such as science, technology and all areas of education,” Hussin said, adding that this knowledge preceded many other learning systems, since it has been there for 1,433 years. He made a special reference to the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he was the best teacher, educator and mentor equipped with values, logic and attitude.
In this context, Numu Al-Elmia, a leading company specialized in the field of publication and distribution of scientific books and English language teaching, said it has the immediate answer and solution to the suggestion raised by the Malaysian speaker.
Being a leader in the sector, it seeks to provide a series of modern technical and educational solutions that would meet the needs of Saudi educational system in terms of modernization, the company said.
According to Azzam Al-Dakhil, chief executive officer of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG), SRMG and Numu have signed accords with international firms specialized in electronic education and modern technological applications.
Earlier, they had signed a strategic agreement with the Education Ministry, Al-Dakhil said.
“Numu’s provision of a number of services to the Education Ministry, including the development of curriculum, publication of electronic educational content and training of educational cadre, augur well for the ministry’s efforts to establish a knowledge-based society,” Al-Dakhil observed.
In the same session, Prof. Colin Williams Evers, from Australia, urged Saudis (both teachers and students) to acquire more knowledge in science, citing the importance of technology and its role in modern life.
Other speakers were Dr. Donald G. Knezek from the US and Dr. Amer Alshahrani. Khaled Al-Awad presided over the session that was attended by a large number of Saudi women teachers in the capital and also from across the Kingdom. “We are here to learn and enhance our educational learning,” one of the female participants said, adding that learning new technology is a prerequisite for meeting the market demands.
Alshahrani suggested that a teacher has to expand his source of knowledge rather than confine himself to the school syllabus, because, according to him, many students are now becoming knowledgeable in technology than other teachers. “That is really a big challenge in the face of modernization of the system,” he added. During the discussion a member of the audience raised the issue of not allowing Saudi students to bring their cell phones or electronic devices, while a country like Malaysia uses the technology in the universities and schools.