Our recent school closures are worrisome and represent a significant inconvenience to students and teachers. The loss of school time, which we can roughly equate to learning time, is unwelcome based on the numbers of students affected. With school time affected by issues including inadequate teacher supervision and staffing issues, untimely repair work, or remedial action to remove mould, we should recognise that ten days have collectively been lost across the various schools this term alone.
It is time to seriously advance with plans to introduce technology in the teaching and learning process. Internet access offers the possibility of online classrooms, smart whiteboards enhance the experience within classrooms, ebooks help reduce the cost of new material, and tablet computers make learning more fun and reduce the weight of school bags! Blended learning describes a style of education in which students learn via electronic or online media, which augments the traditional regular classroom environment.
The timely introduction of blended learning can significantly benefit our students, since learning could still take place, at their own pace, via on online platforms. Even outside the hurricane season, that would offer some resilience from adverse conditions such as sick buildings, localised disasters, flooding conditions, and industrial unrest.
A focus on school buildings alone blurs this important opportunity, because anything which prevents a student from attending classes represents a disruption. With online learning elements in place, students could continue to learn from home, or from a convenient location within their local community. With slightly more planning, a student could report to the nearest school building to continue learning in a safe environment, and access learning resources and teachers too!
Our view of schools, or learning environments, ought to be challenged for the future. Around the country, the power of ICT allows lottery tickets to be purchased islandwide. Likewise, you may top-up your mobile phones at numerous locations bearing the correct logo. Might it be time for us to imagine schools of the future, and new ways of learning?
The promise of programmes like one laptop per child was the transformation of our education system, but not in a half-hearted or piecemeal fashion. It might be time to look at computing devices and other technology as part of the learning process and not as standalone items. Our professionals who remain current in their respective fields do so by continual reading and learning, even outside their place of business. Our current students and professionals of tomorrow should now be taught to do the same. Time is running out.
Editor’s note: Dr Lyndell Phillip St. Ville is an ICT Consultant with a background in environmental science. His expertise includes systems analysis, planning, and capacity building. To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.