Wednesday, 30 January 2013 02:30
By Chevaughn Benjamin
Antigua St. John's - The second leg of the GATE e-Education Computer Tablet and e-Education Connectivity initiative was held last evening at the St.John’s Pentecostal Church House of Restoration Ministries.
In attendance at the session were scores of secondary school students, parents, guardians, teachers and other stakeholders of this initiative.
The Honorable Dr Edmond Mansoor quoted this initiative as being “revolutionary” and attributed the push for this coming as a result of “the many who cannot afford computers and access to the internet” to aid them with their education.
The Minister also spoke about Digicel installation of a content filer to block students from accessing inappropriate websites using the 4G LTE internet provided by Digicel. It was further established that this filtering does not apply to wifi and other internet access points.
Officials representing the Caribbean Examination Council established CXC’s support for this initiative and spoke about the use of “Notes Master, a free online learning resource for students”. A short tutorial on Notes master was also conducted, outlining to those present the benefits of the online learning resource. This online learning resource was also seen as an alternative to e-books as it is specifically targeted towards CXC preparation. It was also noted that CXC is currently in discussions with text book publishers to have the various text books available as e-books. This discussion was however said to be a lengthy process.
She also stressed the 1600 EC fine for intentionally damaged, lost and stolen tablets, which stirred a discussion by the parents. One parent took this opportunity to ask about the timeframe for reporting a stolen tablet, if the said incident occurs on a Friday evening. The audience was then informed that an issue such as this can be reported via email at any time over the weekend or Monday the latest.
When asked about a persons’ inability to pay the 1600 EC it was noted by Dr Edmund Mansoor and Ministry Of Education representative Stacey Mascall, that these situations will be examined on a case by case basis. Mrs Mascall took this opportunity to elaborate on the importance of protecting these devices.
When asked about their view on the effect this initiative will have on the students’ academic performance, there was a general consensus by the parents, guardians and teachers interviewed, that it will be a positive one. One parent expressed that “once the initiative is properly monitored it should not have a negative impact. A teacher from the Ottos Comprehensive School opined that “this initiative may not benefit all students” as some may misuse the tablets while others will definitely benefit from it.
He also opined that “there are prose and cons to this initiative”. The Deputy Principal of A.E. Goodwin Faith and Hope was of the opinion that this project would result in a more effective learning process for student as the text books being used are “outdated” and lack the “relevant information” needed.