The Saudi Arabian eLearning industry is projected to reach USD 125 million in 2008 and is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 33 per cent over the next five years, according to a recent study conducted by Madar Research. The growth is being driven by the Saudi Ministry of Education’s initiatives for the integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and the education sectors, including pilot eClassrooms in five secondary schools in Riyadh. In line with its aims to increase awareness on the benefits of eLearning technologies, Edutech Middle East, a leading provider of technology-enabled learning solutions, has partnered with Saudi-based Effat College to organise ‘The 6th Annual Learning Technology Symposium’ at the Jeddah Hilton Hotel from April 26 – 27, 2008. Her Majesty, Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, will be delivering the keynote address at the event’s opening gala and dinner, which will also be attended by H.R.H. Princess Lolowah Al Faisal, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees and General Supervisor, Effat College; and H.R.H. Prince Khalid Al Faisal, Governor of Makkah Region and Member of the Effat College Board of Trustees. The strong support of key government officials for the adoption of eLearning programs is evident in the considerable increase in KSA’s budget appropriation for education and manpower development, which has grown from SR 96.7 billion in 2007 to SR 105 billion in 2008. “Saudi Arabia fully appreciates the excellent advantages of embracing technology-powered methods, especially in educating its youth,” said ASF Karim, CEO, Edutech. “The fervent keenness of its leaders to establish Saudi Arabia as a digital nation reflects upon their massive movements to adopt eLearning technologies across all educational institutions in the country. Through this symposium, we have joined hands with Effat College to exemplify how more advanced technologies can work for the development of the Saudi education system.” As a leading figure in the regional eLearning industry, Edutech will share knowledge and best practice at the event’s conference sessions and workshops on topics ranging from virtual research, moderation skills for virtual classrooms, online testing assessments and blended learning methodologies to increase language proficiency. Instructors, technical support specialists, researchers, administrators, government officials and policy makers in the K-12, postsecondary and corporate training sectors are expected to benefit from the wide array of new technologies and knowledge to be disseminated within the two-day event. Among the high profile speakers at the plenary sessions include David Sample, Vice President, Blackboard, who will discuss ‘Institutional Effectiveness and Student Engagement; and Majid Al-Ghaslan, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KSA), who will present a lecture entitled ‘Disruptive Technology in Higher Education - Future of Learning in a Networked World’. Representatives from Edutech, including Knowledge Officer Shameema Parveen will be participating as a panellist in a discussion on ‘PeopleWare Upgrade’, along with Information Solutions BU Head Raghavendra, who will be conducting an ‘Edunet’ workshop during the event. Along with Edutech’s products, which will be showcased at the event, the company’s team of consultants will provide insight on how technology is taking training to the next level and meeting learning and training requirements for academic institutions. “Our commitment to organise this event annually is a testament to our inclination towards the utilisation of technology-backed learning methods through stronger research, teaching and training methods, and we are glad to work with industry leaders like Edutech in making this event a success. We are optimistic that the attendees will gain a deeper understanding of the eLearning processes and technologies and recognise the outstanding benefits of integrating learning content within a virtual learning environment, where students can feed their curiosity and be more experimental in their learning. Our main goal is to promote adoption of technologies to gain institutional effectiveness, which will produce more able students who are better equipped to become future leaders of the nation,” concluded Dr. Mohammad Khan, Effat College. Edutech Middle East enables academic institutions to meet their learning and knowledge needs by combining years of experience with technology and content to deliver rapidly deployable knowledge solutions that facilitate faster learning cycles, increase access to information while reducing cost, efforts and investments. It helps organizations build, manage and measure learning outcomes by providing solutions based on the comprehensive Knowledge Solutions framework that blends content and infrastructure into a single and seamless solution.