With the initial excitement of being included in the Tablets in Schools Pilot Project dying down in the 38 institutions in the project, school administrators and teachers are involved in the challenging task of integrating the tablets into teaching and learning at their schools.
For grade six teachers, Kerry-Ann Stanley at St Benedicts Primary School in Bull Bay, St Andrew and Martesha Laidley at Chetolah Park Primary in Kingston, this has been an interesting task even as they prepare their students for the crucial Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).
“Based on their background perhaps one in 10 of these children were exposed to tablets before the project or even laptop or desktop computers, so it has been exciting for them”, Ms Stanley told e-Learning Jamaica Today.
However for the tablets to have the desired effect of improving their education, the teachers expressed the view that students and their parents need guidance.
“Some parents complain that the tablets are a distraction. (The parents say) when the child has the tablet they don’t have any interest in reading their school books or doing their lessons”, Ms. Stanley said.
“Many parents are not aware of the educational capability of the tablets”, Ms. Laidley noted. “There is need for parents to be trained in this area.”
To keep students focused on education while using the tablets, teachers have had to become very creative.
“Sometimes when I am teaching I have students video tape the lesson; afterwards they will replay it for use as a study guide. If they are doing a topic I tell them to collect picturesfrom the Internet and create Powerpoint presentations which they use to study. We also use the apps available on the tablets”.
Ms. Stanley uses the tablets to create a friendly environment for her students to learn. “I tell my students they can contact me after school anytime. Those who have Internet at home Skype me messages, and I challenge them with questions. It makes learning fun.”
“For social studies I have been using the site makemegenius.com. It is kid-friendly and has explanations with pictures, and quizzes which I give to the students at the end of each lesson”, Ms. Laidley shared. She also emails softcopies of homework to her students, thus cutting down on the use of paper.
Both teachers had high praises for Mr. Hanif Walker, e-LJam Region One Training Officer who trained the teachers in the use of educational software to maximize the use of the tablets in the teaching and learning process.These included:
- Schoology, an award-winning school management system, which Ms. Laidley uses to transfer data from tests administered using testmoz.com
- Edufocal, an educational resources developed by a local company
The teachers would like to see parents getting more involved in their children’s education to maximize the use of the tablets.
“Children come to school with their tablets not charged, or without the tablet. Usually they report that their parents were using it”, Ms. Laidley disclosed.
“This gadget needs supervision”, concurred Ms. Stanley. “Parents should give their children an allotted time to work with the tablets at home and find educational material for them.”