The integration of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is clearly active in the 21st Century classroom. Over the last 10 years, e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJam) has been training teachers in the integration of ICT in the Jamaican education system and providing ICT devices and support services (Desktop Computers and Laptops, Tablets, Smart Boards, Multimedia Projectors, Document Cameras, other audio visual equipment and Broadband Internet) to ensure successful implementation of technology within our schools. Students are also better equipped to engage in continuous learning through the use of technology. This “e-learning environment” has been realized through the implementation of e-LJam Projects 1 and 2 with our partners and key stakeholders.
Teachers in all publicly-funded high schools in Jamaica (Project 1) have being applying the knowledge and skills attained from various training programmes conducted as well as on-going workshops for teachers. The training programmes include Data Operations, MICO Technology Integration, and Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE).
Our team has observed educators in high schools using interactive tools to provide students with activities similar to real life situations that may not be possible for students experienced in the traditional learning environment due to cost, geographical limitations, or the level of danger that exists. Examples of these interactive tools include the Smart Board and Mimio Teach.
For example, teachers use the Smart Board in Biology class to allow students to dissect a “3D frog” and identify the internal organs. They also utilize the interactive features of this board to create activities for students to interact with. The interactive nature of these devices enables students to touch the screen to label a map, or play educational games such as Jeopardy, or Wheel of Fortune during class.
The MCE program has provided educators with tools which enable them and their students to utilize innovative and game-changing resources. They can create their own virtual environment directly related to a real environment such as their classroom for a virtual tour later on. Teachers now better understand how technology can be effectively utilized even with constraints, and are better at using collaborative skills and creativity. Greater communication is now possible with Skype, where students’ video call each other free, or an educator can teach a class without being physically present at school.
Teachers of schools in the Tablets in Schools (TIS) Project are trained in Tablet Integration in Education, Mind-Set Change, Smart Board, Mimio Interactive System, and Web-Based Technology. The use of the knowledge gained from training received under the TIS Project has truly transformed the classroom. Training Officers have been deployed by e-LJam to support and monitor the integration of technology in these schools and have observed numerous improvements, such as:
• Greater collaboration and communication through the use of Schoology, Skype, Google Groups and other similar resources where teachers and students are engaged in chat forums, video conferencing and the development, delivery, completion and grading of tests and assignments.
• Easy and effective file sharing using technology such Bluetooth, Google Drive, email services (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, MSN etc) to send and receive files that includes audio, video, image, and text.
• Creation of instructional aides through the use of apps and web-based technology such as WPS Office, Big Fat canvas, video & photo editor, audio recorder, Voki.com, Zaption.com and others. By using these technologies teachers and students have created photo stories, PowerPoint presentations, drawings, jiggles, interactive videos and avatars to name a few.
• Access to information via websites and apps namely YouTube.com, IXL.com, Starfall.com scholasticlearningzone.com, edufocal.com, gogsat.com, gsattutor.com, Istory Book, e-LJam Maths 1-5, Up You Mighty Race, e-LJam Tutor and others. Through the use of these applications teachers and students are able to access additional teaching and learning activities such as video tutorials, quizzes, worksheets and other support resources to further enrich learning.
Digital minds require the use of technology to further enhance their learning needs and e-LJam has been empowering educators in Jamaican schools to do so by integrating new and emerging technologies in their lessons. As our technological and educational landscapes continue to evolve e-LJam is committed to ensuring that we provide continued support to Jamaica’s 2030 vision.