My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Tablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tablet In Schools Project launched for September 2014 – How Teachers Benefit as Female interest in ICT Industry Blossoms

“Educational opportunities have been uneven in our past, and as this programme rolls out, we will be equating the quality of instruction available to all our children, irrespective of the school they are in, irrespective even of whether they are in school or not, because this (technology) will be available at home and will eventually be applied to radio and television, as well as on the tablets”

Minister of Education Minister Ronald Thwaites commenting during the launch Ceremony for the E-Learning II Project now rebranded the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project on Monday July 21st 2014

The JA$800 million e-Learning Project II to launch Tablets on a Test Pilot to some 38 Schools in a Year-long Test Pilot has begun as reported in “Distribution of tablets to teachers for e-Learning project begins”, published Wednesday, July 23, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

Dubbed the TIS (Tablet in Schools) Project, Telecom Provider Digicel, one of four (4) Contractors to supply the Tablets, delivered 180 Tablets on Monday July 21st 2014 to the Chetolah Park Primary School in Kingston during a presentation ceremony at the Convent of Mercy Alpha in Kingston.

The total List of Schools getting Tablets as art of the Test Pilot wasn’t made public. But if the Test Pilot succeeds, it’ll be expanded to some 38 Schools, 24,000 Students and 728 Teachers as broken down below:

1.      13 Primary Schools
2.      6 All Age and Junior High Schools
3.      11 High Schools
4.      6 Infant Departments
5.      1 Teacher’s college (possibly MICO University College)
6.      1 Special Education Institution

So says the Horse's Mouth in their own article “Teachers Receive First Set of Computers Under Tablets in Schools Project”, published July 22, 2014 By Alecia Smith-Edwards, The Jamaica Information Service.

Oddly, no details on the Source or even the Model of the Tablets so that Traditional Media or even Social Media outlets such as On the Ground News, Loop News Facebook page or even the Geezam Blog could do a review or even take them for a spin.

All the preparation work that was mentioned for this launch of some 25,000 Tablets to some 38 schools as laid out in my blog article entitled “Tablets in Jamaican Schools by September 2014 – E-Learning Project II Public Education Campaign needed to be successful” was done and the project is on track to commence at the start of Academic Year 2014/2015 which starts September 2014 and ends June 2015.

This is starting to look really good, folks! If this one year Test Pilot succeeds, it’ll expand islandwide to some 600,000 High School Students and Teachers!

Tablet in Schools Project – From 180 to 27,000 to 400,000 Tablets over Five years

It’s been quite a journey for the e-Learning Project II to launch Tablets on a Test Pilot since my first article back in April 2013 entitled “Minister Paulwell gives Parliamentarians and 20,000 Students in 30 Schools Tablets- Future in Science and Technology now rescued Indiana Jones and the Palace of Doom”.

I became doubtful when around the same time last year in July 2013, the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining hadn’t yet named any contractors for the e-Learning Project II Test pilot were not yet named. A doubt which I expressed via my blog article entitled “Ministry of Science and Technology yet to announce Tablet Contractor - 400,000 Tablets for E-Learning II Project in 5 years as Test Pilot to end June 2014

In that article, I expounded the main benefit of Tablets; a cheaper Delivery Platform for books, which would mean less heavy knapsacks and purchase of expensive books. Not to mention giving children early exposure to Tablets and thus computing from Primary School straight up to the University Level.

So 2013 was skipped and then 2014 rolled around. By March 2014, the missing Contractors had been found; four (4) in fact, to supply some 27,000 Tablets as explained in my blog article entitled “Ministry of Science and Technology signs four Contractors in March 2014 to procure Tablets - Test Pilot Project in September 2014 means Teachers can monetize e-books

1.      10,500 Tablets from Innovative Corporate Solutions
2.      5,500 Tablets from Digicel Jamaica
3.      5,500 Tablets from Productive Business Solutions 
4.      5,500 Tablets from GeoTech Vision Enterprises Limited

Projected to cost parents only JA$5000 per Tablet, the Four Contractors are to supply Accessories and design and maintain the Platform for the Tablets under the Test Pilot Project:

1.      Tablets
2.      Accessories e.g. Headsets, Cases with Keyboards
3.      DMS (Device Management Solutions) e.g. Tracking Stolen Tablets and locking them down when stolen
4.      CMS (Content Management Systems) e.g. Website Tracking and Blocking Tools

This will now present the opportunity for High Schools to not only save on the cost of construction of IT (Information Technology) Labs at most High Schools, but it will also make IT a part of the curriculum from Day One.

Tablet in Schools Project – How Teachers Benefit in switch to Interactive Learning

Teachers can now make revenue via the publication of e-books for Teaching Material that accessible via their own personal websites or Social Media Channels as explained in my how-to blog article entitled “Crowdsourced, Teleworking Flex-work Publishers needed for UWI and High School Students with Tablets in 2014 - How Jamaican Writers can make money via ePub Publishing Books” and “How to become an e-book Publishing House via e-book Piracy - Tablets in Schools sets the Stage for Rampant e-book Piracy”.

State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Julian Robinson, during the presentation, placed great hope on what he expected the TIS Project to achieve, quote: “... We have very high expectations in terms of the impact that the project will have on teachers, students and communities, because each school will become a hot spot where persons in the community will be able to access the Internet if they have devices that are so enabled”.

Interactive Learning instead of Instructive Learning will be what these Tablets will enable. Worries about distractions within the Classroom are easily downplayed by the fact that these Tablets are fairly easy to secure as detailed in my blog article entitled “How to Lock down your Child’s Tablet or smartphone and Apps to Block, Protect and Notify you of your Child’s whereabouts Online - Defense Against the Dark Arts”.

Tablet in Schools Project – Children Safe as Female interest in Jamaican ICT Industry Blossoms

As for worries that these Tablets will make Children targets, not to worry!

The Four (4) Contractors have been tasked with installing DMS on each Tablet that will make them easily Trackable by the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) aka the Jamaican Police in the event they get stolen as explained in my blog article entitled “How smartphones are stolen and IMEI changed – Uninformed Jamaican Police Tracking Jamaicans even as GOJ ID Registration by Telecom Providers needed”.

Not to mention improving Mathematics and Science Grades by giving Primary and High School Children access to the incredible power of Google to do their homework and avoid the long Lines at the Library in the Computer Room. It’ll have an immediate effect after 1 year; boosted Grades in Mathematics, the Sciences, English and Computer Studies. Best of all, it’ll empower Children with the idea that they can learn on their own…..and Teachers with less work to do in terms of preparing Classes.

Children will also over time begin to understand the difference between valid and invalid source information by learning to manipulate the Google Search Engine Provider as explained in blog article entitled “How to effectively search using Google while Researching your articles”. This early exposure will help them in the long run, as they’ll become better able to sift through information and rate its validity.

Their familiarity and continued usage of Google via Tablets and their own personal smartphones will gradually over time result in their children becoming smarter as explained in my Geezam blog article entitled “StudyBlue reveals Smartphones, Tablets make you smarter – The Big Bang Theory on Google”.

Long Term, if it succeeds and is spread to all the schools across the island in the next five years, it might result in more females entering the ICT (Information and Computer Technology) Sector via their introduction to Computers at an early age as explained in my blog article entitled “International Girls in ICT Day - How Women can jump-Start Jamaican ICT Industry from Call Centers, Telecom Providers and NDA's”.

Telecom Provider Benefit too; their 4G LTE Networks that’ll be completed in the next 18 months are guaranteed some 27,000 new Customers. When school is over and students go home, they’ll have to invest in having access to High Speed Wireless Broadband Internet Access.

Uplifting the Consciousness of a younger Generation by empowering and expanding their minds via Computing is the Long term aim of the TIS Project.
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