An investigation of the computer training needs of the teachers and students at teacher colleges in Saudi Arabia
Worldwide discussion has been initiated about the role of computers and information technology in schools. In Saudi Arabia, the introduction of computers into education institutes has been a feature of development planning since 1990, but many educationalists assert that the technology is underestimated and blame inadequate teacher preparation. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the computer experience, computer knowledge, computer training needs and attitude toward computers of Teacher College teaching staff and students in Saudi Arabia. It also examines the availability of human and physical resources for appropriate training in this area. The survey sample was 147 teaching staff and 472 students drawn from all departments and levels of study in five men's Teacher Colleges, one from each of the five regions of the country. In addition, a small number of policy- makers (e. g. college deans and ministry officials) were interviewed. Data were collected via a questionnaire survey, using an instrument adapted from Fodah (1990), containing multiple- choice questions on computer experience, knowledge and training needs, and a 5- part Likert-type attitude scale. Information on computer courses, resources and related policy were addressed by semi-structured interviews. Lack of access to computers, deficiencies in computer knowledge and low computer experience were found among staff and students. Lack of computer training appears to be one of the main causes of low utilization; inadequate material and human resources are another obstacle. Nevertheless, both groups had positive attitudes to computers. If Saudi Arabia is to keep abreast of the information revolution, Teacher Colleges need a high level of equipment and service infrastructure, and well-prepared computer teachers and staff capable of training their colleagues and students to integrate computers in teaching and learning.