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It includes all aspects, conditions, possible preparations, circumstances that influence the learner's achievement. It combines concerning about the physical environment, instructional events that happen within those surroundings, also facilities in which teaching process needs. The classroom or learning environment includes also the space itself, the furniture and its arrangements. Each one has its impact on the learning and teaching process and by adjusting all these elements together to be consistent with the learners' learning styles and the teachers' teaching styles beside the effectiveness of the instructional space we can make the education milieu effective and vital.
A teacher can help greatly in establishing the effective classroom environment by making simple physical adjustments such as making classrooms sections or corners, presentation area to present the students' projects, well-lit reading area and providing suitable furniture with good lighting, heating, cooling and technological equipments which help to integrate technology in education.
Maybe it is difficult to adjust all the classroom environment requirements we desire but it is nice and appreciable to try our efforts to make and prepare what is possible.
** Comparing Public and Private Schools:
In Saudi Arabia, there is a big difference between the classroom environment in the government (public ) schools and in the private schools. Some government schools are well prepared by the latest technological instructional tools and equipment and they can compete the private schools as the Model Schools and Aramco Schools. As a teacher, you can be as creative and innovative as possible because all class environments are available there with teachings aids, technological tools and media are available.
Aramco and The Model Schools are prepared with language laboratory which enhance English language learning. There are listening and speaking sets and data show with video and DVD machines.
We have what we call ( The Recourses Lab) or (The Recourses Class). This kind of class is well prepared by number of computers, speakers, overhead projector, LCD video show, round tables for group work, magnetic white board and smart electronic board.These kinds of classes are available in all government schools. At least one in each school.
In the Model and Aramco Schools, all classes are well prepared by instructional technology and smart boards the same as the resources classrooms but in other government schools all these facilities are provided only in the resources classrooms.
The Internet connection is usually provided by teachers despite that all government schools are provided by a local high-speed internet connection but the password is not known by the teachers and limited to the administrative staff only.
The problem is that not all schools are well prepared by instructional technology as Aramco and Model Schools but very limited ones. The rest of government schools have computer labs for computer courses but can be used by the teachers in their free periods and resources room. Also, most schools are prepared by smart boards in 2 or 3 classes only but with limited use because the teachers didn't get training of how to use them in the classrooms.
As a wealthy country, the Saudi government gives appreciated efforts for education and schools. The Ministry of Education follows a very developed plan for changing the educational system into a very modern one. It starts to apply King Abdullah bin Abudulaziz's Project for Developed Educational System ( Tatweer ). This project aims to use new curriculums and applying technology in all government schools gradually.
The government specifies a large budget for the Ministry of Education but the principals who holds high positions don't spend it according to the schools' needs. Also, there is no observation and a serious following up for the financial distribution of the educational budget. The result is not getting well prepared schools with instructional technology.
We need a fair distribution for the educational budget according to the schools requests and a serious committee for following the achievements of schools' requirements.
A part of the problem of not having well prepared schools with a technological aids and tools refers to the schools' head teachers and principals because they don't send reports to the branch of the Ministry in their area about what tools, instruments, and equipment do they actual need in their schools. The result of those head teachers' ignorance for preparing schools is the accumulation of technological instruments, tools, machines and instructional equipment in the Ministry's stores.
Some of the Ministry's principals complain about not getting orders and reports about the schools' needs.Some reasons of schools' lack of educational technology is that some teachers like the traditional class environment despite that there are courses for training teachers as computer courses and Microsoft Office Applications courses as PowerPoint and so on. Those old fashioned teachers don't like to update the teaching aids they apply in their classrooms so they don't send reports asking to prepare the classroom with instructional technology.
Regarding private schools, most of them or all are well prepared with instructional technology because it is a main factor to attract students to study there. If they are not well prepared, there will be no difference between government and private schools. In my opinion, they have to concern about integrating technology into education to attract more students and to create a reason to raise the cost of the academic year but I'm convinced that we have more well prepared free classrooms in the public schools.
Most people agree that students of the public schools do better and get better scores and attainment than private schools because teachers there teach for the sake of students not for the sake of getting more salary. Students of private schools get high scores and most get questions of the tests before the test day because they pay money to get grades only but in public schools all students get their scores out of their efforts.
Regarding physical space, it has maximally adjusted and qualified to meet learners' diverse skills. Space arrangements are better arranged than public schools to support interactive learning, create active learning surroundings, and positive participation. Also, the classroom climate is flexible and meets diverse learners' needs. Cooperation learning is more applied without loss of healthy and safe conditions at private schools more than public ones. What helps the innovation and creation in private schools that the number of students is fewer than public schools and it is a main factor to make more parents register their kids there.
The shortage of using technology in the classroom appered to be a problem not only in the Saudi schools but everywhere. An example indication a research paper titled as Technology and its impact in the classroom conducted by Rozalind G. Muir-Herzig,Bowling in 2003 about the effect using computer technology the classroom has on at-risk students' grades and attendance. The sample for this study consists of teachers from a Northwest Ohio high school. It resulted that teachers' technology use, students' technology use, and overall technology use have no significant positive effect on the grades and attendance of at-risk students. In addition the study finds that technology use is low among the teachers in the sample & that extremely low means of technology are used. These results suggest that for technology to be effective, schools must be prepared for technology use in the classroom. To use technology as an effective instructional tool, training and time is needed for teachers to infuse technology into their curriculum.
** Some Future Plans by the Ministry of Education:
The government starts to prepare the e-class in some schools and plan to apply the project in all schools later. These kind of schools apply the e-learning in a technical environment with full electronic equipments and facilities. In these classrooms, teachers will use the electronic tests, e-portfolios, exchange e-mails, use the chatting room with their students, upload and download files of the course and have forums to exchange ideas and information between the teacher and the learners.
Also, there is a trend to open smart classrooms using smart board in all classrooms of the public schools which apply the smart curriculums instead if the paper books. The Ministry of Education provides e-books for most courses and can use them on their smart machines as the iphone, i pad and i pod and all different kinds of them. CDs are available for all students and teachers.
The Ministry of Education applies the Electronic Educational Management Project (Noor) which enables students to get their results, grades and marks electronically and sends SMS for their parents about their attendance, their behaviors, and breaking news about the school.
There are 3 kinds of interactive classrooms in some schools and the Ministry of Education intends to apply them at all schools as soon as possible.
1- the Interactive Electronic Classroom which contains e-board, a computer and data show.
2- The Cooperative Electronic Classroom which contains e-board, a computer, data show and 5 computers for students.
3- The Complete Electronic Classroom which contains e-board, a computer, data show and 25 computers for students as a max number. All these kinds of interactive classrooms use the electronic teaching aids and tools and e- books.
The Saudi government tries to keep pace with technology evolution and acceleration developed the National Plan for Communications and Information Technology. The fourth goal of the plan's objectives as stated in the National Plan for Communications and Information Technology, optimum for Communications and Information Technology in education and training at all levels. The Ministry of Education started to apply e-learning in 180 secondary schools with a budget of fifty-six million Saudi riyals, as a experimental step in the academic year 1426/1427 and will be circulated after examining the results of the experiment. Despite these efforts however, Saudi Arabia has not achieved the desired success, but is too late, the number of courses electronically submitted in establishments official very few in addition to the lack of dependence on e-content in the curricula of different educational levels. Still the national efforts are scattered and not enough to integrate information technology and communication in Saudi educational system.
A research paper was conducted by Fatimah Alghadeer, titled as Employing modern methods in the field of educational technology in teaching schools Saudi Arabia. The study included 120 female schools in Riyadh about integration educational technology in teaching Maths. 50% of the schools were public schools. The results of the study showed that the degree of availability of technical developments in secondary schools for girls were generally low, the degree of use of technical developments in secondary schools for girls was low. Also, it showed that there are obstacles to a high degree related to the teachers' use of educational technology innovations in teaching and skill parameters in the use of educational technology innovations were low, too. The study recommended: the need to provide the Ministry of Education to various educational technology innovations in all secondary schools and to equip secondary schools with educational technology innovations properly.
Another scientific study published in Alyaum Newspaper on Sun.,28th,2012 about the Default Scientific Laboratories Project at schools as a part of integrating technology into Saudi schools in the scientific subjects as physics, chemistry. Dr. Ahmad bin Saleh Alradi, the researcher, revealed that using electronic scientific laboratories is a kind of applying e-learning in science subjects instead of actual experiments students apply of the usual laboratories which are not available in some schools. The project was proved by the Ministry of Education in 1720 secondary schools for both male and females in the Kingdom as a part of King Abdullah's Project for Developed Education ( Tatweer ). Also, the Ministry of Education intend to have a special website for following this project and to provide the teachers with aid and assistance to apply that idea correctly.
A study aimed to know the obstacles of using digital technology materials in Saudi Arabia secondary school was conducted by Prof. Nasser Al-Faleh in KSU to know the difference between the teachers' responses due to the kind of school whether it is private or government one and due to the teacher's experiences. The sample consisted of 168 government and private secondary schools teachers and the results showed that (10) Items of the obstacles of using digital materials got the average mean between (1.78) and (2.44) out of (3).
Another study Ws done by the same researcher Prof. Al-Faleh in KSU was about The Use of Digital Technology in Saudi Arabia' Schools aiming to know the digital technology materials use in Saudi Arabia schools and to what extent they are used with clarifying the different conditions of these digital materials found in schools. The researcher prepared a questionnaire consisting of (3) parts and (15) items distributed to a random sample of (180) secondary schools teachers in some government and private schools and the usable sample was (144). The results showed that: The availability of digital materials in schools got average mean (1.54) and (2.82) out of (3). The uses of digital materials in schools got average mean between (1.49) and (2.42) out of (3). The suitability of digital materials in schools: got average mean between (1.69) and (2.56) out of (3). The researcher recommended that all teachers should be trained from the earliest education levels and in-service training courses for advanced digital competences. Also, e-Learning should be introduced and that teachers and trainers of all fields and disciplines should be confident and competent in these skills in order to encourage students to use ICT for their learning in a critical and creative way.