The governments in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to spend millions of US dollars on digital learning solutions , according to a recent report by Pearson, the a global education company.
In the Gulf region, government expenditure on digital learning is some of the highest in the world, it says.
The UAE Government's ambition of paperless classrooms is being achieved through programmes such as the Federal Higher Education Mobile Learning Initiative, which was launched in September 2012 at a cost estimated to exceed Dhs50m, said the new report, known as Alive in the Swamp, which gives practical advice on how to make more informed, evidence-based decisions when selecting learning technology.
The Alive in the Swamp  report contains an Index, which allows for systematic evaluation of new digital innovations. Under the Index, learning technologies are assessed along three criteria: the effectiveness of the learning technology's pedagogy, its ability to activate real and lasting system change, and the accessibility and usability of the technology itself.
While the large number of new learning technologie s available in the region has presented both education ministries and schools with unprecedented choice, it has also made it more difficult to determine which of these tools will have the biggest impact on the learning outcomes of students. Recent international research indicates that educational technology is often being used to support existing teaching practices regardless of their efficacy, rather than helping to positively transform teaching and learning, according to the report.
Sir Michael Barber, who acted as an education advisor to the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, noted this trend in his forward to the Alive in the Swamp report, saying, "The future will not belong to those who focus on technology alone but to those who place it in the wider context of what we know about maximising learning and realising system impact. This report helps advance that goal."