Educators from a wide range of institutions in the education sector gathered at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston on November 17, 2014 to benefit and share in demonstrations of some of the latest developments in the use of technology in teaching and learning with particular focus of providing support for the Tablet In Schools Project.
The event staged by e-Learning Jamaica Company Ltd (e-LJam), in collaboration with EdTech Jamaica, under the theme “Emerging Technologies: Enhancing Pedagogical Practices” was the second of its kind.
The symposium, which was well supported by scores of teachers, covered a wide range of interesting topics. These included “Influencing student performance in mathematics; finding solutions for teaching English grammar; and the use of tablets by students and teachers in the Tablets in Schools Pilot Project to integrate technology in instructional delivery.
Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, a former Minister of Education and the guest speaker at the opening ceremony, stated that “it was the right approach to introduce ICT concepts and materials at the very beginning of the education system” and that “integration of technology should become a normal part of lesson plans, learning and everyday life”. He noted that most future economic growth and development would come from the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and that e-LJam was well positioned to significantly impact the development of STEM skills in Jamaica. He cautioned however that “this development of creative skills and know-how will have to be supported by the values and attitudes that underpin social cohesion”.
Ambassador Whiteman commended e-LJam and all the other organisations involved with the Tablets in Schools Pilot Project.
Other topics covered in the symposium included the use of tools and software to drive instruction. Presentations came from companies such as Microsoft, who presented the MICROSOFT Office Mix – two new Microsoft tools designed specifically for educators which, among other things,let teachers set up an ideal oneNote environment for their clases in minutes as well as personal work space for each student in a class. It allows for teachers to focus on learning/teaching instead of software or/and devices.
Other interesting presentations included, innovative ways for creating music using technology; cyber safety; and addressing the challenges involved in using emerging technologies such the concept of bringing your own device (BYOD)to class.
EdTech Jamaica is a group consisting of college lecturers which shares best practices, nurtures ideas and harnesses technological skills for the benefit of the education system. The group was formed by the 15 lecturers from teachers’ colleges in Jamaica who received scholarships from e-LJam to pursue Masters in Education Technology at University of British Columbia, Canada, a sustainability strategy to concretize the Technology in Education programme of the organization.