Education minister wants greater use of e-books – Jamaica Observer

YOUTH and Education Minister Fayval Williams says she is hoping there will be better use of e-books for this school year as the kinks of the new system are ironed out.
“This is the third year that we are using the e-books and as you would expect with technology, there’s an adoption curve that we all go up,” Williams told the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
School administrators have complained of issues with the e-books including problems with accessing the material and having to download books on a specific device, as highlighted by Jamaica Teachers’ Association President La Sonja Harrison at a recent Jamaica Observer Press Club.
Harrison had noted that limited Internet access is a major challenge for some schools, particularly those in remote areas, pointing out that “if you don’t have Internet, you can’t have access”.
“It has to be on a particular device. It is not as if you know where you have a licence to it, you could activate it on your laptop. Whichever device that you sign up with, that is the device that you have to use and if you don’t have any Internet, you cannot access [it] and you can’t download the book,” she said.
Williams said the ministry will now change the way it administers the e-books, noting that “this year we’re going to be distributing the codes directly to our students and of course we’ll have some sensitisation sessions around it.”
“You can download [the e-book] once. All of it gets downloaded on your device and it is there during the entire school year for your usage,” the minister assured.
“Our students can bring their devices to school [to access the e-books] — all of our schools have electricity and our schools have…some level of Internet right now which we are looking to upgrade but they can come to school and get it downloaded there,” she added.
The education minister was responding to questions on the matter raised by Opposition spokesperson on labour and social security, Dr Angela Brown-Burke, following Williams’ statement.
Burke said she was concerned about the reports regarding the issues school administrators have faced with e-books in terms of expired accounts and some who ended up abandoning the e-books and used other resources instead.
“I would love to know that we are making progress and that they’ll be able to make better use this time around,” she said.
In the meantime, Williams said she is pleased with “the quantum of e-resources that we have been able to provide to our schools” and implored principals, teachers and students to avail themselves of it by visiting the ministry’s website and using its applications.
She noted that 500 lesson plans are available for teachers on the ministry’s lesson plan platform and that more will continue to be added.
“These lesson plans are aligned with our National Standards Curriculum. Our goal is to have lesson plans for all subjects for all grades. We implore our teachers to utilise this resource and likewise if our teachers have lesson plans that they would like to share, those lesson plans can be uploaded on the platform,” she said.
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