Technology in education should not be considered as a replacement for face-to face instructions but rather as a means to attain the desired results. Along the same lines, Vikashkumar (2005) emphasizes that the use of ET would enhance the conditions in which students will be a pivotal integral element in teaching and learning processes, and this can take the form of: expanding access, promoting equality, improving the internal efficiency of educational systems, enhancing the quality of education, and preparing new and old generations for a technology-driven market place. However, in Saudi Arabia, there are many obstacles to reach a full implementation of educational technology. Definitely, funding was not, a G-20 country, seen as one of the factors in this respect. On the contrary, according to 2012 statistics, the Saudi government allocates almost one third of its annual budget for education. Despite that, there are still many other obstacles that impede this immense finance to conduct to full implementation of ET at Saudi Arabia’s schools. These obstacles are found relevant and closely related to: infrastructure, policies and teachers.
Investment in education has become a top priority for the Saudi government. It allocates a lion’s share, about one third, of the annual budget for education. Although, speaking of the massive budget for education doesn’t justify the reality. In fact, there are many studies state explicitly that the use of educational technology in Saudi schools is still in its infancy stage. For instance, Al-Maini (2011) states that “There is lack of classroom computers, language laboratories or other means of integrating computers into subject teaching”. This is a persistent headache for all developing countries, as again Vikashkumar (2005) explains in this quotation that “developing countries usually tend to be at the undesirable end of the digital divide spectrum. However, they cannot afford to stay passive and be left behind in race for better social, economic and education prospects”. Though, despite all the previous facts, the policies would also has great impact upon the use of ET in Saudi schools which through understanding its vital role, we would expand our scope in term of having more comprehensive understanding of the issue in study.
Lack of appropriate policies
The policies of any governmental body are the authoritative gate for the coming developments. Therefore, the importance of policies is to legitimize initiatives and insights. Also, without the proper policies that conform to the Saudi context there will be no sound implementation of ET in schools. To contemplate this topic scientifically, a group of studies deal with this very topic will be reviewed here. First, Almutairi and et al. (2010) state that “there is no indication that students are encouraged to think about, design, or to evaluate products”. Accordingly, While this study talks solely about elementary level, it is also applicable for the other two levels. Secondly, some academics are technophobes (Alqurashi, 2009). This can be considered as a barrier to come with sound policies. Therefore, the government needs to encourage students to use technology and to implement technology in education as fast as possible. More important, verbs like design, assemble and invent need to be adopted and to be as fast as possible part of the government’s objectives in education. However, the role of teachers inside their classes would be the most important role among the three.
Teachers and insufficient preparation
A sufficient preparation for the teachers will absolutely lead to a successful implementation of educational technology in Saudi Arabia. However, some studies state that the teachers suffer of “lack of confidence, lack of competence and lack of access to resources”. Along in the same lines, a study declares that academic instructors and pre-service EFL teachers should receive adequate, tailored, and continuing up skill training about how to best integrate technology into the process of language learning and teaching. Also, another researcher finds that teachers suffer of lack of time because of too much material that needs to be explained and the given time seems not enough. Therefore, teachers need to be equipped with sufficient training. That will enable them to implement ET inside classrooms properly.
To conclude, the integration of ET is a vigorous power in driving economic, social, political and educational reforms. The power of any country is a reflection of how good is its educational system which full implementation of ET is a prominent feature of.