One of the main pillars of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is the educational sector. The vision states – “Our goal is to attract and retain the finest Saudi and foreign minds, and provide them with all they need. Their presence in the Kingdom will contribute to economic development and attract additional foreign investment.” Shifting to digital education to support teacher and student progress will no doubt be a cornerstone of National Transformation Program (NTP) and an area that Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company intends to play a key role as an ‘enabler’ through its ‘Mobile First Architecture’ that creates smarter networks for smarter students.
Digital learning in Saudi will boost student achievement and is vital to the modernization of school curriculums and long-term success of educators. The next generation ‘wireless classroom’ lets everyone thrive when they use Wi-Fi enabled devices and apps that create a richer learning experience.
Jamil Ahmed, Country Manager, KSA at Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company says, “Classrooms are changing. We are seeing the impact of the Digital Revolution. Learning environments are now preparing students for their future work environments. Classrooms are shifting away from rows of desks, to an environment that promotes collaboration between students, teachers and learning devices. It’s what we call the Optimized Digital Classroom. Textbooks are being swapped out for mobile devices that provide up-to-date content in real time. Printed exams are transitioning to online assessments. 1:1 and BYOD initiatives are replacing wired computer labs. Skype and Google Hangouts are fuelling new study groups. And personalized learning programs are developed to meet the individual needs of each student. Technology is transforming the way we educate our children. Schools are adopting these initiatives to deliver a rich learning experience by engaging students to use the devices and applications they thrive on.”
“This Digital Classroom needs to support 21st Century Learning, with 1:1 initiatives and Project Based Learning. It needs to provide anytime/anywhere access to Cloud-based apps like Google Apps for Education and Office 365. It’s a classroom that easily provides guest access and encourages student collaboration, that can also prioritize critical learning apps such as Online Assessments. As a result, IT professionals in education in the Kingdom need to plan for the future and build a next-generation infrastructure that supports this digital learning environment and emerging technologies.”
Understanding the importance of digital transformation of the education sector, a little over a year ago, the education ministry introduced an initiative called Future Gate to promote digital learning and “change the whole setting” in schools. It handed out iPads to students and teachers in schools and is encouraging more technology-enabled teaching and learning. While this is a great initiative, foundational layers need to be put in place. That starts with basics like connectivity. Given mobile’s ubiquity, there is little tolerance from staff and students alike for downtime or poor experiences. Providing a truly mobile learning environment relies on a resilient network and pervasive coverage and having a mobile-first strategy in place.
Aruba is keen to work with government and educational institutions in the Kingdom towards developing this mobile-first strategy that will enable digital transformation of the education sector and e-learning.
“Aruba’s mobile-first strategy advocates unifying all things mobility to take the pressure off the educational institution’s IT – access management, the wired and wireless network, as well as the management and security of mobile devices and apps. All these elements need to be combined into one cohesive system, which offers a simpler and more secure way to support the mobility needs of students, faculty and guests.”
“There is also the question of schools, colleges and universities in Saudi future-proofing themselves against constant changes in demands and technologies. You can’t ask educational institutions to rip up and replace IT equipment in order to keep up with new demands. There are so many devices connecting to networks today, with so many different standards, that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. By using open platforms that allow integration with other solutions, the education sector can remain flexible in its IT approach, while meeting the scale, control and monitoring needed to ensure all users operate safely and securely.”
Over 2500 universities globally deploy Aruba secure, mobile and IoT ready solutions to provide faculty, students and guests with a great networking experience in the most challenging environments – from dorm rooms and lecture halls to research labs and sports venues.