E-learning a success
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Despite minor glitches, the e-learning programme being administered through HEART/NTA and the Mico University College is being hailed a success by the programme's administrators.
The HEART/NTA-Mico programme is designed to empower teachers to use available technology to reach students more effectively, enabling them to pass the Caribbean Secondary School Examinations, one of the main targets of the programme. The training that takes a student-centred approach makes the teachers more competent in their use of technology and in their own methods of teaching.
The e-learning programme seeks to help teachers develop problem-solving skills in students. This approach has been glaringly absent in the current educational programme. Under this new approach, topics that might present a challenge for teachers to pass on to students are simplified with the use of technology.
Under the programme, more than 11,000 teachers are being taught skills that will enable them to be more effective communicators.
Teachers are taught basic information and communication technology (ICT) skills, and with a larger number of schools being outfitted with computer labs, the teachers are now being taught how to integrate these newly acquired skills into the current system of learning.
"Our role is to give them the pedagogical skills to now apply those skills that they have learned from the first part of the e-learning training into the regular curriculum that they teach daily," says Junior Martin, lecturer in technology and ICT coordinator at the Mico University College.
The training comes with an assessment section. There is ongoing formative assessment where at the end of every lesson the teachers must develop an electronic portfolio that must be presented to the trainers. The teachers are also given special assignments as individuals and in groups on which they are graded. This will qualify them for certification.
So far, some 10,000 teachers have been trained, and according to Winston Fletcher, director of enterprise-based training at HEART, training has been going well and accreditation has been fairly high as all the associated agencies are in alignment with regard to the objectives of the programme.
"There is alignment because the HEART Trust is the national training agency and is an agency of the Ministry of Education, which is the parent of e-learning as well. So both our objectives are consistent and are about training and certification of the workforce generally. In this particular case, it is the teachers in the secondary-school system and some teachers' colleges that are being equipped with the requisite technological skills - IT skills - to facilitate the integration of IT throughout the educational system. There is great congruence in all the parties working together."
The programme, Fletcher believes, will benefit both teacher and student. "I think it will benefit both significantly, especially in light of the fact that the economy in which we operate has changed significantly. We are more technologically driven and information is the name of the game today."