Thu | Jun 1, 2023

Tablets improve learning for Mount Olivet boys

Published:Monday | March 27, 2023 | 10:11 AM
Wards at the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Walderston, Manchester, utilising tablets received through the home’s ‘Tablet Drive’. The ongoing private-public partnership is aimed at improving the academic performance of the boys. - Contributed photo.

Dozens of residents of the Mount Olivet Boys' Home are now experiencing improvements in completing their school assignments as a result of devices acquired through the facility's ongoing 'Tablet Drive'.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of the Walderston, Manchester-based facility embarked on the initiative to acquire tablets for the more than 40 wards, at the time.

The objective was to supplement the home's resources and aid the boys in their online learning, which was necessitated by the pandemic.

In a recent interview with JIS News, Director of the home, Kimberley Elliott-Williamson, details the need that gave rise to the initiative.

“We didn't have enough desktop computers for say, one per boy. The challenge was that some of the boys, when they came into the computer lab, we did not have enough staff to do the supervision for that large group, even when it was scheduled,” she pointed out.

As such, she says that some boys would request to stay up past “lights out” to complete their assignments.

In addition, Elliott-Williamson notes that the over 40 boys at the home at the onset of the pandemic were enrolled in eight schools – all in different grades and classes, who received lesson notifications via the home's sole cellular phone.

“The respective schools would send assignments or follow-up work to different WhatsApp groups, and it was pretty overwhelming,” she points out.

With the tablets, not only was each boy able to conduct work outside of the times scheduled to use the computer lab but it also enabled them to access work notifications from teachers, thereby easing the demand placed on the cellular phone.

The Tablet Drive continues to provide the home with devices to facilitate hybrid learning in the post-pandemic school system.

Elliott-Williamson says she is even now more grateful for the benefit the tablets have provided, particularly for the boys gearing up to sit their school-leaving Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations.

She shares that they experience fewer distractions when compared to utilising the computer lab, and she has seen significant improvements for this special cohort in study and time management.

“The use of the tablets allows the boys to have direct communication with their teachers, which helps them to work more efficiently on the multiple tasks they have assigned,” she said.

“The tablet also affords them the advantage of having their notes and research materials digitally saved… so that is an advantage,” Elliott-Williamson adds.

She shares that at one point, each boy was assigned a tablet, but as other boys join the home, there is a need to replenish the devices.

The Mount Olivet Boys' Home Director expressed thanks to the individuals and sponsors who partnered with the facility to obtain the tablets, and is appealing to corporate Jamaica, as well as the diaspora, to contribute to the drive.

The Mount Olivet Boys' Home, adopted in 2009 by the JIS, is a private residential facility owned by the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, and is currently home to 33 boys.

- JIS News

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