With the click of a button, students and teachers at one of the country's oldest secondary institutions, Jamaica College (JC), in Kingston, will have access to hundreds of digital books, photographs, and recordings through their e-library programme.
This means that students will now have the option of visiting the school’s library or using the virtual platform of the Elton B Stephens Company (EBSCO) e-library, which was launched on March 9.
Catering to user needs and preferences at every level of research, the system can be used to easily move from the catalogue to the particular book, then to a particular chapter.
Jamaica College is the first and only public secondary school in the country to have implemented the EBSCO e-library platform.
Explaining other aspects of the programme during its launch, Executive Member, Jamaica College Old Boys’ Association, Stephen Dawkins, said once the users have the password, they will be able to utilise the services.
He added that the programme is “very simple to use,” so the students will be able to access the information deemed necessary.
Mr. Dawkins points out that the information provided is credible, as most of the materials are provided by researchers, and members of academic circles.
“They are the largest aggregator of full text research content in the world. They have subjects in the areas of Science, Literature, Database, History, Business, English Language, Math, Social Studies, Information Technology and Caribbean Research,” he explained.
Mr. Dawkins noted that while textbooks are available online, entire books cannot be downloaded, due to copyright laws.
The students, he said, will be able to find the articles they need to get their research papers and other assignments speedily.
Endorsing the programme, Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, urged the students to “make full use” of the e-library programme to propel themselves “to the highest heights.”
“You are the inheritors of a tremendous advantage…make full use of it. Jamaica needs critical and enquiring minds, not those who can memorise facts and figures in a book and regurgitate it at exam time. The acquisition of information has its place…but we need to stretch, and test your abilities to think, reason, to solve problems, to face difficulties, to be modest and prideful, in a good way, in the face of your successes,” he said.
The Minister used the opportunity to encourage the students to remain focused and resolute in the pursuit of their goals.
“One important way in which you will benefit from your education is by accessing this new facility for internet connection and for reading and research. Jamaica is fortunate…in that we have a well-developed information platform,” he said.
Vice Principal for the Lower School, Rohan Wong, said the programme “affords us the avenue to motivate our students to learn through the use of technology."
“This will give them increased access to a wide range of resources and will prepare them for the wide world of academia,” he noted.
For her part, Public Relations Manager at FLOW, Jeanette Lewis, said the infusion of technology in the education process is paramount.
“We simply cannot downplay the extent to which technology plays a major role in the way our children, students and future leaders work, play and learn,” she added.
Ms. Lewis said the modern approach to accessing educational material is a “bold step” in the right direction for young people.
“The process of teaching and learning will be so much more engaging and exciting for all those involved. The potential for student achievement is boundless, limited only by the personal drive and commitment of the students, parents and teachers,” she said.
The e-library was sponsored by the Jamaica College Old Boys Association, and FLOW.
Other institutions in the island which use the programme include the University of the West Indies (UWI), and private schools, such as the American International School of Kingston (AISK).
Founded in the late 1700s, Jamaica College boasts a very rich history, and currently caters to approximately 1,800 male students.
The institution is widely known for both its academic and sporting achievements, and has produced many influential members of Jamaican society, including former Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Norman Washington Manley, Michael Manley and Bruce Golding.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter