Embracing E-Learning: OECS Commission and CXC Continue Collaboration Using New Educational Technology

The OECS Commission’s Education Development Management Unit and the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) continue their collaboration to support Ministries of Education across the region in the development of existing ICT capacities and the creation of new digital resources.

A collaborative approach has been adopted to build a knowledge-sharing community involving Ministries of Education throughout the OECS and wider Caribbean. This saw each member state choosing a set of subjects with the aim of increasing the repository of Open Educational Resources (OER) and giving teachers a greater appreciation of the many features available on the NotesMaster e-learning platform.

NotesMaster, a custom built learning environment that allows students open access to knowledge and educational resources and to collaborate remotely while learning, was rolled out in the British Virgin Islands late last year in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The Ministry of Education in the Turks and Caicos Islands was the latest to benefit from this initiative where over 20 secondary school teachers in the areas of Mathematics, Information Technology, Social Studies and Food and Nutrition were introduced to the platform at the Long Bay High School from May 21 – 23, 2018.

Teachers were trained in the following areas to fully utilise the new technology:

• Accessing the toolkits (Virtual Subject Associations) for all CPEA, CCSLC, CVQ, CSEC® & CAPE® subjects;

• Creating and managing Virtual Classes complete with assignments, a full set of lesson plans and grading and reporting tools;

• Creating and disseminating resources according to the syllabus objectives;

• Creating high quality OERs containing text, video, animations, images, tables and sound clips;

• Using screen readers for visually impaired students;

• Tracking student performance using the Virtual Classes feature;

• Engaging parents by showing them how to track their child’s performance and conduct in class;

• Creating and posting assignments, handouts and other important information with students;   

• Utilising cloud storage to facilitate file management and reduce printing and photocopying;

• Sharing of OERs with virtual classes which enable students to learn while on their mobile devices; and

• Networking and sharing best practices with other teachers in the territory.

Mr. Edgar Howell, Chief Education Officer/Director of Education in the Turks and Caicos Islands, welcomed the initiative which seeks to prepare students for the future.

“The NotesMaster platform can drive greater student productivity and achievement in all levels of the education system. I am confident it will be effective in preparing the children of the Turks and Caicos Islands for life in the 21st century and beyond,” Howell commented.

Turks and Caicos Islands’ Deputy Director of Education Mr. Mark Garland also noted that the new technology perfectly represents the blueprint of the Ministry’s ICT Policy and urged teachers to use the innovative tool.

In addition to the teachers, 25 students selected by principals and teachers of each high school were introduced to the NotesMaster toolkits and the variety of learning resources catering to their learning styles, SBA information as well as exam related information for each subject. The students were also introduced to the many ways in which they can take charge of their own learning experiences.

Following the training, a teach-the-teacher approach has been adopted and a virtual support network has been formed for all schools to ensure the full training of all members of staff in the use of the platform. The virtual nature of the training, through email, WhatsApp and Skype, will facilitate the timely communication of the curriculum changes by CXC and the many upgrades to be released later this year on the platform.

Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS; Mrs. Sisera Simon, Head of the Education Development Management Unit of the OECS; Mr. Edgar Howell, Chief Education Officer/Director of Education; Dr. Perle Brewster, Education Planner; Mr. Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education; and Mrs. Talia Dara Thomas, Education Officer for Public Schools all contributed to the effective execution of this initiative.

The OECS Education Development Management Unit continues to work with CXC to further advance NotesMaster across the region to elevate student educational outcomes. ¤