More than three-quarters of top education officials around the world believe technology can play a major role in how students learn and how teachers educate.

This is according to a global survey commissioned by Cisco and conducted by Clarus Research Group. Telephone interviews were conducted with 500 education administrators and information technology decision-makers in 14 countries on five continents. The countries surveyed were Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the UK. One half of the survey respondents were K-12 school officials, and half were college and university officials.
The survey asked respondents in Middle East and Africa (MEA) what educators find most important to them;
* 89% of respondents in MEA feel that technology will play a large role in improving how students learn in future;
* 69% of respondents in MEA believe that technology will have a role in improving how teachers teach as well as improving student engagement;
* Only 40% believe that technology will help reduce administrative costs; and
* 69% of respondents see increasing efficiency as the most important for new IT systems if they are going to upgrade their IT infrastructure.
When asked top technology-related issues that some schools/colleges and universities face today in MEA these were Internet abuse, help students and faculty work together, cyber security, reduce administrative expenses.
Top issues for MEA also include communicating with parents, communicating with students, and taking advantage of new technology.
When asked about the qualities offered by education technology providers i.e. companies that sell computer, online, wireless and other technology products and services to educational institutions, respondents in MEA are most interested in thought leadership and innovation and creativity.
The survey shows that educators across the globe see three critical learning issues:
* Preparing students to compete in a global economy and helping to ensure their employability after graduation were cited by 83 percent of respondents as key concerns. Today’s students need a core school program that prepares them to engage in an increasingly connected ecosystem, requiring an understanding of how to use technology to compete effectively and become productive members of tomorrow’s workforce.
* Most educators, 85 percent, see technology playing a “large role” in how students learn. They also cited the impact technology can have in encouraging student engagement and participation.
* The need for programs and curriculum that enable students to develop skills in team and project-based learning was noted by 86 percent of the educators. Improved communications with parents, faculty and staff is considered critical.
In terms of key technologies, Internet abuse, collaboration, and cybersecurity are top issues. Educators rated protecting students from Internet abuse very high; close behind were using technologies to collaborate better, developing stronger cybersecurity on campus, and using technology to reduce administrative expenses.
Increasing efficiency, using more video, and broadening data-driven assessments were also highly rated. The survey revealed that educators also see technology as a means to “do more with less” and to become more efficient. They are also aggressive with plans to implement more video and embed the technology and media in the learning process. They are also seeking more impact from investments in data-driven assessments and decision-making systems.
College officials across the globe want expanded online international education. Looking ahead five years, 65% of the college and university officials surveyed say online international programs are a “major opportunity” for them, as those can result in a greater “virtual” student body and can enrich learning opportunities by diversifying faculty, students and expert viewpoints.
These survey results point to a new “connected learning” networked economy, which calls for technology skills development to increase global competitiveness within education.
Frank Florence, global public sector senior director of education at Cisco, comments: “Increasingly, we are seeing governments acknowledge the role that education plays in building healthy economies and societies, and within this vision, technology is quickly rising in impact. I am gratified to see that new technologies such as collaboration and video are globally increasing in importance in education, as they can open the door to a world of opportunities for students, regardless of socio-economic status or geographical location.”