Efforts Accelerated to Bring Teaching Technologies to the Classrooms


The e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJam), the portfolio agency of the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, is accelerating efforts to standardize instructional materials and bring teaching technologies to the classrooms, in a bid to upgrade the quality of education in high schools.
A Ministry Paper outlining the agency’s performance was tabled in the House of Representatives last week by Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce, Phillip Paulwell, during his contribution to the 2007/08 Sectoral Debate.
The documents states that the company was preparing bidding documents to contract publishers and writers of instructional materials to develop instructional materials for students and teachers in five subject areas under the Development of Instructional Material component of the e-Learning Project.
The contractors will include local teachers and subject specialists who are capable of developing high quality materials for which the Ministry will retain intellectual property rights.
According to the Ministry Paper, subject specialists have been engaged to interface with these developers to ensure that technical specifications, standards, and quality of the materials are rigorously met.
Phase One of the e-Learning Project will focus on five subjects in Grades 10 and 11, covering English Language, Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Information Technology.
Overall, the project will also include the development of a detailed and comprehensive set of instructional materials in digital format for teachers and students in 11 designated subjects at five grades.
The Teachers’ Instructional Materials (TIMs) will be developed on a modular/unit basis and include comprehensive content, suggested local/international best practices teaching methodologies for each topic, and recommended best practice assignments and projects. Students’ Instructional Materials (SIMs) will act as core text for the student and will comprehensively cover the syllabus topics. The schools will continue to rent textbooks to students to complement the SIMs and to provide variety and reference.
According to the document, once the materials are developed, they will be reproduced and provided to the pilot schools for testing. Comments will be obtained and the materials finalized, and provided to all high schools on CDs, DVDs and other electronic media, and in due course on the Internet for easy access and updating.
Bids for provision of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training and certification have been evaluated and recommendation for a service provider in this area is to be submitted to the National Contracts Commission (NCC) and Cabinet for approval. Some 2,000 teachers will be trained and certified by the end of Phase 1.
The bidding process for contractors to conduct a baseline survey intended to establish the academic performance of the pilot schools without the project has been completed and bids invited. Evaluation of the bidding documents is now being done, with a projected completion date for the survey set between July and August 2007.
This survey will enable the measurement of any incremental improvement in academic performance of the schools which could be attributable, in part, to the project. The survey will also evaluate other factors and variables to inform implementation of Phase 2 of the Project.
The budget for the e-Learning Project is US$50 million and is funded from the Universal Access Fund. The e-Learning Project is a comprehensive and integrated education initiative which uses information and communications technology to address certain specific weaknesses at the high school level. The project, which benefited from wide consultation within the education sector, is informed by the Ministry’s conviction that it could increase the populace’s demand for access to data and data related telecommunication services, and create a knowledge based society which is competitive regionally and internationally by raising the education level of the society.

JIS Social