e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited in association with Educational Technologists at the islands Teachers Colleges, was host to over four hundred (400) educators at an Educational Technology Symposium held on November 20th 2012 at the Knutsford Court Hotel under the theme, “Transforming Education in Jamaica through eLearning”.
Among the distinguished guests were Government Ministers and technocrats from the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), lecturers, teachers and administrators from various schools and colleges across the island, as well as members of other education interest groups. This occasion also saw the launch of“EdTech Jamaica” an Association spearheaded by the Education Technologists.
In his address, the Hon. Julian Robinson, Minister of State, MSTEM, stated that “although an advocate of technology”, he was “not of the belief that technology is the panacea. He pointed out that the data shows that “on an international scale, technology by itself has not lead to an increase in the educational achievements of students. As such, technology will not solve the problems in the education system, as it requires other reforms to be undertaken”. Referring to the recent CXC results, he assured the audience that they should not be discouraged by the findings, as it did not indicate that the project was not a success, as the challenges we are confronted with regionally are also being faced globally.
The MOE was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Grace McLean, who brought greetings and gave her stamp of approval on the event. Mr. Clayton Hall, JTA President and Mrs. Elaine Foster-Allen, Dean of the Teacher’s Colleges of Jamaica (now Permanent Secretary, MOE), were also in the lineup of speakers.
The keynote address was delivered by Dr. David Vogt, specialist in the integration of innovative and emerging technologies from the University of British Colombia, Vancouver, Canada.
Dr. Vogt’s address was centered on how the world has been revolutionized through education technology. He pointed to the fact that no longer are we limited to access to such knowledge in “special places”, as ICT’s (Information and Communications Technologies) have made it so that knowledge permeates the entire globe and is available for anyone who reaches out for it. He expressed the view that “we have cultivated our fragile garden of knowledge so well that it has blossomed and grown beyond our imagination, it is everywhere, it is flourishing and it is overwhelming”. Continuing, Dr. Vogt pointed out that the path to knowledge is all about learning, and how individuals who wish to become knowledgeable can be fulfilled without leaving the comfort of their homes, as this is done through the use of technology.
Conference Chairperson, Mrs. Keisha Edwards-Hamilton, Educational Technologist of the Moneague Teachers College, in launching the Symposium, expressed the hope that through the symposium they would be able to share their expertise, showcase best practices and new practices and establish the links between both in order to provide efficient solutions to problems and challenges being faced in the education system.
This hope was well realized as the topics addressed by the workshops and presentations included – Using Animation Technology to Enhance the Learning Experience presented by Mr. Wayne Sinclair, Real Rock GSW Animations; Bridging the Gap in Information and Communication Technology between Poverty and Gender presented by Mrs. Yvonne McCalla Sobers, Chairman e-Ljam; Technology Integration in the Teaching of Spanish presented by Mrs. Kerene Nelson-Monteith, Teacher, STETHS; Microsoft Apps for Educators presented by Queenie Ko, Microsoft; and Technology Integration in Secondary Schools presented by Dr. Donna Powell-Wilson, Shortwood Teachers College. In fact the concurrent sessions included presentations by all 15 Education Technologists as well as other experts and full details of these are available on e-LJam’s website www.e-ljam.net.
Participants were elated at the highly professional presentations and the opportunities presented for exchange and networking and expressed the hope that this opportunity for professional development would be made available on an annual basis.
The Symposium was well supported by various sponsors. Leading was CaribbeaniSchool as Major Sponsor, supported by Gold Sponsors Microsoft, VSCHOOLZ, Silver Sponsors KBC Learning, Dell International, Pearson/SuccessMaker, while Dekal SUPERWIFI provided Wireless Internet and Power 106 was the media partner who had a very informative outside broadcast from the venue.
EdTech Jamaica is an Association formed by the 15 lecturers from the ten teachers colleges who were granted scholarships by e-LJam to pursue an online Master of Education Technology Degree from the University of British Colombia in Vancouver, Canada. The aim of this group is to provide a platform for educators to share best practices, to harness the technological skills of contemporary society, to inspire interest and energy for the creation of new and emerging trends in addition to being the cradle and the repository of ideas related to technology in the present education system. The inaugural Executive includes President, Dr. Donna Powell Wilson, Vice –President, Venturo Bryan; Secretary, Norma Williams; Treasurer, Kirk Smith; Training and Events Coordinator, Mrs. Keisha Edwards-Hamilton; Research Officer, Mrs. Denise Stoney-James; and Business Ventures Officer, Ms. Kerry Ann Henry.