As the country continues to grapple with its dismal performance in mathematics each year, leading math educators at The Mico University College believe they have found one of the panaceas for the crippling problem.
Claude Packer, professor of mathematics and president of The Mico, is of the view that the online learning management system, EducoSoft, could play a pivotal role in bolstering the performance of students in this core subject.
"It (EducoSoft) is created by the savvy people in India and what we do, basically, is give them our curriculum and they have a massive database which they use to match it with our particular system; so it's customised," Packer noted.
He said since Jamaica's main problem with mathematics is the grasping and delivery of content, this programme is ideally designed for both teachers and students to enhance their knowledge of the mathematical concepts which seem to be eluding them.
"The math online is not just practice, it's not just tests. It explicates concepts, it teaches first. For example, (if) you are doing volume it's difficult to draw a model on the board. But with this it is online, so you can see easily everything because of the computer," Packer posited.
The professor said it was for this reason The Mico has taken the initiative to pioneer the widescale use of this software.
He said another major plus to the software is that it gives students and teachers the chance to take control of their own learning by allowing them to go at their own pace and manipulate the same lessons as many times as they want to.
Head of the mathematics department at The Mico, Novlet Plunkett, said the school has already started using this software as part of its curriculum for students entering their math and primary education programmes, and they are already seeing drastic changes in students grades.
In addition, Plunkett said the college has already used the software to train some 200 teachers and they have helped two community colleges, Excelsior Community College and Montego Bay Community College, to start using the software this semester.
"The teachers have spoken on different occasions about how it (EducoSoft) has enhanced their own knowledge of mathematics and so we are very much involved and believe in the value of this resource," Plunkett noted.
Flash Drive Developed
She added that out of consultations with the college, EducoSoft developed a flash drive to ensure that even those students who do not have access to the Internet can still use the software.
"When EducoSoft came to Jamaica they realised that some schools may not have Internet access (so) the idea for a flash drive with all the lessons packed into it was created," Plunkett said.
She said these flash drives, each containing the Jamaica curricula for three successive year groups, is currently being retailed for US$40 and schools could possibly get these at reduced prices if they decide to buy them in bulk.
Meanwhile, Packer is encouraging the Education Ministry to seriously look into the use of this software as part of the mathematics curriculum.
He said the way students currently learn is different and technology must be fully incorporated in the classroom at all levels.