Teachers and information communication technology in Saudi Arabia : current use and training needs
Education planners in Saudi Arabia, as in many other countries, are anxious to exploit the potential of ICT to enhance the teaching and learning process. However,concerns have been voiced that teachers are ill-equipped to cope with the new technology. This study investigates the present use of ICT among Saudi primary teachers in the classroom, for professional development and for personal use; factors that deter/prevent use; teachers' perceptions of their skills in ICT, their attitudes to ICT; and their training needs in relation to ICT. Data were collected via a questionnaire survey of primary school teachers in Riyadh, Makkah and Dammam, and complementary semi-structured interviews with teachers, government officials with responsibility for education and representatives of private sector bodies involved in various ways with provision of ICT facilities.The findings showed that teachers' use of ICT was low, especially in the classroom. The major constraints on use were lack of availability,lack of skills,and time and budget constraints. More than half the teachers had received no training in ICT and many lacked basic competencies. However, some had downloaded resources for teaching, and some used ICT to exchange ideas with colleagues. Attitudes to ICT were generally positive. Some differences were found in use of ICT, attitudes to ICT and perceived competence in ICT, in relation to personal variables, most notably in relation to the amount of previous in-service training received in ICT. Government officials wanted all teachers trained in ICT, but plans and policies were diffuse and unclear. Training and technical support are available in the private sector, which teachers could use, given the time and financial resources.On the basis of the findings, recommendations are made for in-service training to equip teachers with the operational and pedagogic skills needed to use ICT effectively in the classroom.