My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: June 2018

Monday, June 25, 2018

Jamaican students doing CSEC Exams online in 2019 heralds Open Source Software Developement Future

“With a growing emphasis on incorporating information and communications technology (ICT) into the teaching/learning process, easier access to resources in multiple formats, such as audio, video, animation, text, images, hyperlinks, e-books and links to CXC social media platforms, should prove very attractive and useful to current students and teachers alike, and particularly boys,”

Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid at a Press Conference at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday May 10th 2018 to launch the CXC Learning Hub

CXC (Caribbean Examination Council) Exams are finally stepping into the 21st Century.

By the next set of CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) Exams in 2019, the Paper 1 (Multiple Choice) part of many exams may be done on a computer as noted in the article “Online CXC Exams Coming”, published Friday May 11, 2018, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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So said Minister of Education Senator Ruel Reid at a Press Conference at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Thursday May 10th 2018! This was during the launch of the CXC Learning Hub, which will allow students to have increased access to CXC past papers with solutions produced by the examination body’s external partners.

This shift to e-testing may be welcome news for male students. Paper 1 of most CSEC exams aka Multiple Choice, will most likely the first to go online, will now have audiovisuals, videos and animations (think GIF's tailored made for CSEC Physics!!) making the examination come alive...or be a distraction.

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Soon CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination) and CCSLC (Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence)…a whole world of animated Examinations await future student sitting CXC Examinations!

So how will this be done by many schools, most of which do not have computer labs to seat so many students?

CXC Examination Platform - BVI did it out of necessity

First a bit of a background as to why this may be happening….

Jamaica will not be the first to go this route; the BVI (British Virgin Islands) have already gone this route. They've experience the brunt of Hurricane Irma and lost a lot of the physical records of many of their students.

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A switch to e-testing makes sense for them, as the exam can be marked in a matter of minutes, allowing them to know their grade at the end of the exam, if they are so inclined. It's also not a problem in terms of cheating, as the computer can be locked with the proper software so as to make communication during exams difficult.

Also less paper is used, making this a cheaper examination option. Finally the exam results are stored in a Database hosted in a Cloud Storage Server not located on the island; this safeguard the data from potential loss due to natural disasters.

Interestingly the BVI did both paper 1 and 2 of the CSEC, Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), [and] Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence (CCSLC) online, with mathematics and English done without a hitch.

So says CXC Registrar Glenroy Cumberbatch, quote: “This year, [BVI] has decided to do all of their examinations – Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC), Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), [and] Caribbean Certificate of Secondary-Level Competence (CCSLC) online, both paper ones and paper twos”.

So if the BVI can do it, then so can Jamaica, but for totally different reasons!!!

So what is the CXC Learning Hub? And how does it relate to Jamaica opting to have student do their CSEC Exams online?

CXC Learning Hub – Test run for Jamaican Online Exam Guinea Pigs

The CXC Learning Hub can be seen as a herald for the CSEC Online Examinations Platform in the future as pointed out in “Online CXC Exams Coming”, published May 12, 2018 By Ainsworth Morris, The Jamaica Information Service.

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Resources in the hub will support CXC’s suite of qualifications:

1.      CAPE and associate degrees
2.      CCSLC
3.      CPEA (Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment)
4.      CSEC
5.      CVQ (Caribbean Vocational Qualification)

The CXC Learning Hub will provide the following resources for free for learners and teachers:

1.      Interactive syllabuses
2.      Subject reports
3.      Practice tests
4.      Digital toolkits

These Digital Toolkits will contain the following:

1.      Animations
2.      Audio
3.      Images and videos.
4.      Infographics

Games, process animations and other multimedia learning objects created by CXC will be a part of the premium content offered by the CXC Learning Hub. In short the CXC Learning Hub is a Test Run for Jamaican Online Exam Guinea Pigs!

So how will the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information implement this in the future?

Jamaican and CXC Examination Platform - Open Source will make it Secure

This is also possible in Jamaica as many examination centers are already equipped with labs to handle the number of student required. Most likely, they'll also utilize Open Source for their Computers and Web Platform, as these are more secure from hackers and anyone trying to sabotage the CSEC Exams!!

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Telecom Providers, working with the Ministry of Education, can help provide high Speed Internet to stem any bandwidth issues due to so many webpages being opened at the same time, as the CXC Examination platform will most likely be cloud based.

Finally, should there be a shortage of computers, Laptops running the CXC Examination platform can be provided by the Government of Jamaica, soliciting help from various private sector organizations.

They can even turn to competitive bid to the same contractors that did the Table in Schools Project as noted in my blog article entitled “Why Tablet in School Rollout in September 2016 means Contractors and Kinesthetic Content coming”. 

Hopefully too, this start a movement towards developing our own Open Source Platforms in Jamaica as advocated in the Geezam blog article entitled “Tertiary Institutions in Jamaica should use more Open Source”...... but that is an article for another time!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

How Jerome Campbell's ArrowEX CodeApp App makes 10 Digit dialling transition easy

“I quickly realized that this was an opportunity, because to change out the numbers manually would be tedious. So, CodeApp was a pre-emptied solution to the problem. There are other international apps out there but I still wanted to put my app in the game”

Jerome Campbell, 31-y-o developer and app designer for the CodeApp

The date for the transition to 10 digit dialing came and went without much fanfare in Jamaica.

 10 Digit dialing took effect on Thursday May 31, 2018 with little or no problems as noted in the article “Mandatory 10-Digit Calling Takes Effect Today”, published Thursday May 31, 2018 by Romario Scott, The Jamaica Gleaner.

This is because the Telecom Providers made sure that whenever anyone made a call without either the 876 or 658 dialing codes, they were told that they had to add those digits in front of the number in order to make the call.

Still, many were caught off guard despite being told about it since last year as reported in my blog article entitled “OUR, NANP 658 area code for Jamaica heralds MVNO Telecoms for Digicel and FLOW”.

Some jamaicans, however, who did not have the time to add the new area codes, turned to the Google Play Store on their smartphones, seeking a solution.

They soon found one brilliant Jamaican software developer Jerome Campbell, who had developed the CodeApp App, which many Jamaicans have since downloaded as reported in the article “‘App-Solutely’ Jamaican - UTech Graduate Creates One Of The Most Popular 10-Digit Converters Available In Google Play Store”, published Sunday June 17, 2018 by Carlene Davis, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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So who is Jerome Campbell? What is 10 Digital dialling? And how does the CodeApp Apphelp?

CodeApp App - 10 Digit dialling App clocks 50,000 downloads

CodeApp App, was developed by a 31-year-old Jamaican information technology specialist and app designer named Jerome Campbell. The app, which is mentioned on his CodeApp Websiteis the second highest rated country code converter in the Google Play Store, clocking in at more than 20,000 downloads and boasting a 4.5 rating out of five.

The CodeApp App is currently available in the Google Play Store in the formats:

1.      Free
2.      Premium

The iPhone version is still in development and will be available by June 30. A very popular app, its clocking in at about 50,000 downloads thus far, making money mainly from Google Adsense, to quote Jerome Campbell: “At the current rate I’m expecting 50,000 downloads by the end of this month, it’s making a bit of money, it’s building”.

For persons thinking that after the numbers are converted the app is useless, Campbell had this to say, quote: “The app has value added features to check data and credit balances, send please call me and please credit me messages and other (quick) codes. Its download size is less than four megabytes”.

This means that the app is a value buy, helping many smartphone owners in Jamaica to switch to 10 digit dialling as heralded in my Geezam blog article entitled “OUR’s 10-Digit Dialling means MVNO and Competition coming to Digicel and FLOW”.

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And no, according to the developer, he's not collecting your data to resell to a third party advertiser, quote: “In this age of scamming and hacking, persons might think that Jamaicans are not tech-savvy, but we are very aware and very cautious, as opposed to other apps, which we don’t know who is behind it, I’m putting my reputation behind this app, so that is a guarantee that I’m not harvesting the contact information”.

Jerome Campbell's CodeApp App –Lecturer ArrowEX, Inc on the Rise

A Lawrence Tavern native who grew up with both of his parents, he was quite an earlier achiever. After having attended Lawrence Tavern Primary and Oberlin High schools, he then went to UTECH (University of Technology) at the age of 15 years old.

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Currently an adjunct lecturer at the VTDI (Vocational Training Development Institute), he teaches Mobile App Development along with other information technology based courses to young students. Thus this company is a quite a feat considering that when he went to UTech, he had no idea what a programmer was, muchless that he could make a career out of it, quote: “When I entered UTech, I didn’t know what a programmer was; I was told there were a lot of jobs working with computers, so my mother encouraged me along that line. Programming came naturally to me and I just began to become good at it.”

Several years later, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from UTech and a Master of Science in Computer Science from the University of the West Indies. Unable to find a job, he started his company called ArrowEX, Inc which is incorporated in Delaware in the United States.

His company currently has global reach and multinational invests, with all the development being done in Jamaica by Jamaicans. He started the company due to the fact that he was unable to get a job immediately after leaving university.

He began developing apps for himself, with CodeApp App being among the successes among his 20 apps he's developed thus far. So what will he develope next?

Stay tuned as we go through the adjustment to this new paradigm as we'll soon run out of area codes in the next few years!

Here’s the link:

For more information, please contact the:
Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR)
36 Trafalgar Road
Kingston 5
Telephone: 876-968-6053, 1-888-CALL-OUR (2255-687)
Fax: 876-929-3635