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Social media helping education in Arab world
Wednesday June 26, 2013 7:59 AM, WAM

The continued growth of social media in the Arab region has facilitated innovations by people, created new horizons for government entities and new social trends by Arab societies, says a new report.

Titled "Transforming Education in the Arab World: Breaking Barriers in the Age of Social Learning", the fifth edition of the Arab Social Media Report was launched by the Dubai School of Government's Governance and Innovation Programme.

In addition to analysing patterns, demographic breakdowns and usage trends of social media platforms in the Arab region, the report focuses on the impact of social media on education and life-long learning in the region.

A regional survey was conducted with around 4,000 participants, that explored perceptions about the quality of schooling in the region, use of technology and social media in classrooms at different educational levels, interruptions to schooling due to conflict, as well as views on educational reform.

In terms of technology and social media use in the classroom, 55 percent of the teachers who responded to the survey said they use social media as a classroom resource, while 10 percent of the parents surveyed indicated that their children have access to social media platforms in the classroom.

However, more than half of parents said their children's classrooms do not incorporate technological tools. In contrast, nearly 56 percent of the parents were concerned with the distractions social media cause to their children.

The research also surveyed parents in Arab countries suffering from political instabilities, violence and civil strife.

Around 68 percent of respondents in these countries said online resources can help their children catch up on material lost due to short or long interruption in schooling.

Fadi Salem, director of the Governance and Innovation Programme and co-author of the report, said: "With more than 55 million active Arab users of Facebook and 3.7 million of Twitter, social media is already playing a growing role in formal and informal education, on-demand training and in capacity building."

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