AS PART of a move to boost students' performance in mathematics and science, technology innovators Cyber School Technology Solutions has partnered with the Ministry of Education and Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) to implement the Universal Technology Education Project.
Eight schools - Holy Trinity in Kingston; Balaclava in St Elizabeth; Glengoffe in St Catherine; Seaforth in St Thomas; Albert Town in Trelawny; Papine in St Andrew; and Anchovy in St James have been selected to benefit under phase one of the project.
The schools will received computer software under a the private-public collaborative agreement.
Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, who spoke at the launch of the project which was held at the Holy Trinity High School in Kingston on Thursday, urged students to fully use the cyber school technology, and information and communication technologies generally, to enhance their learning.
"It (information technology) must be used in order to increase your learning in every single subject, and not only in school but also throughout your life," the minister said.
Pointing to plans afoot to transform the Kingston Port into a logistical centre, minister Thwaites revealed that the investment to take place will yield approximately 4,000 well-paying jobs that will require not only academic competence, but acute information technology skills.
"The schools that have been chosen as beneficiaries are not schools of choice, but the technology that is being made available to you today, will make you employees of choice if you take up the opportunities that are available to you," he advised the students.
specific subject areas
Chief Executive Officer of Cyber School Technology, Conrod Hanson, said: "The computer program will assist teachers to improve student performance in mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics."
Many students continue to struggle with mathematics and science subjects, with data from the Planning Institute of Jamaica showing an average of 65.5 per cent passes in mathematics and the sciences at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate level. Scores for math in particular were low, with only 39.9 per cent of students passing in 2011.
"The technology uses an advanced 3D-animated format called the Digital Virtual Teaching and Learning Technology Education application, which improves lesson delivery dramatically," Hanson added.
He explained that it allows for virtual demonstrations of specific concepts, procedures and systems to assist students to understand. In addition to the virtual demonstrations, the technology also engages students using quizzes and games. Students may also access the programme from home so that they can revise the content taught.
"Ten minutes a day is all it will take to improve your average," Hanson claimed, highlighting that the cyber school program has been used in African countries, such as Kenya, where it has boosted the mean average performance of schools from 50 per cent to approximately 85 per cent in math and sciences in 24 months.
Science teacher at Mile Gully High School, Mark Clarke, whose school was given a trial of the new program by JNBS, says performance in science has increased tremendously as a result.
"I've been using it for 18 months and I got a 43 per cent improvement in CSEC results," he revealed. He added that the program has also helped him to deliver richer content, while it also encourages students to take responsibility for their learning.
"Students are able to go back and revise the content and it builds a sense of excitement about the whole science programme. They come to class knowledgeable, making class discussions and learning more meaningful," he stated.
In the meantime, sales development and training specialist at JNBS, Michael Collins, who spoke at the launch of the project, says the new technology will not only engage students but will also "influence them to develop a better appreciation for subjects they often find difficult.
"As a society focused on nation building, we are confident that the exposure to this new technology will improve the learning process; and, therefore, we welcome the collaboration with cyber schools and the Ministry of Education, to assist students to enter a new phase of educational achievement," Collins said.