Pearson’s O'Malley advocates vigilant technology investment at Saudi Arabian forum; says ‘no magic bullet’

Kimberly O'Malley, head of the U.S.-based Pearson Research and Innovation Network in Washington, D.C., recently offered insight into digital technology’s potential to enhance education while visiting Riyadh for Ta'leem 2016, Saudi Arabia's annual education convention.

O’Malley led a dialogue at the fifth annual International Exhibition and Forum for Education on the impact of technology investment on students’ future success, stating that learner outcomes can improve if technology is phased in with care and training supports.

"Our current … post-secondary learners are digital natives,” she said. “Their understanding and use of digital devices can be beneficial in improving their educational performance. However, digital technology is no 'magic bullet' in the classroom. The type of digital tools selected, teacher training … and their role in supporting instruction needs to be carefully managed. Otherwise, technology can simply be used for technology's sake.”

Stressing access to quality education from primary through post-secondary levels, improved literacy and arithmetic skills, and progress born of education’s overlap into early career success, research from O’Malley’s stateside team has found that technology can not only augment individuals’ learning, but can also assist teachers’ time management and create flexibility in their relationships with their students.

Gulf Cooperation Council nations—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—have increasingly used digital technology in classrooms over the past few years. O’Malley stressed that implementation must be supported by teacher strategies and continuing professional development to keep pace with advances.

“Best practice would be to gather evidence to show that the ways we deploy technology have a proven impact on teaching and learning before widespread implementation," she said.

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