Education minister wants greater use of e-books

WILLIAMS…this is our third year of using eBooks and as you would expect with technology there is an adoption curve that we are all climbing

YOUTH and Education Minister Fayval Williams has said she hopes there will be better use of e-books for this school year as problems with the new system are ironed out.

“This is our third year of using e-books and as you would expect with technology, there’s an adoption curve that we’re all climbing,” Williams told the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

School administrators have complained about problems with e-books, including issues accessing materials and having to download books to a specific device, as Jamaica Teachers’ Association President La Sonja Harrison, during a recent Jamaica Observers Press Club.

Harrison had noted that limited internet access is a major challenge for some schools, especially those in remote areas, stressing that “if you don’t have the internet, you can’t get to it.”

“It has to be on a particular device. It’s not like you know where you have a license, you can activate it on your laptop. Whatever device you sign up with is the device you need to use and if you don’t have internet, you can’t access [it] and you can’t download the book,” she said.

Williams said the department will now change the way it administers e-books, noting that “this year we’re going to be distributing the codes directly to our students and of course we’ll have awareness sessions about that.”

“You can download [the e-book] once. All of this is downloaded to your device and it is there throughout the school year for your use,” 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 that we are looking to improve, but they can come to the school and download it there,” she added .

The Minister for Education was responding to questions on the matter raised by Opposition Labor and Social Security spokeswoman Dr. Angela Brown-Burke following Williams’ statement.

Burke said she was concerned about reports of problems school administrators had with eBooks in terms of expired accounts and some who ended up abandoning eBooks and using other resources instead.

“I would like to know that we are making progress and that they can use it better this time around,” she said.

In the meantime, Ms Williams said she was pleased with “the amount of electronic resources we have been able to provide to our schools” and implored principals, teachers and students to take advantage of them by visiting the ministry’s website and using its apps.

She noted that 500 lesson plans are available for teachers on the ministry’s lesson plan platform and 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 use this resource and likewise if our teachers have any lesson plans they would like to share, those lesson plans can be uploaded to the platform,” she said.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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