Careers & Education

Businessman offers opportunity to study math online

BY DENISE DENNIS Career & Education staff reporter dennisd@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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WHILE Jamaica bemoans the performance of students at the recent sitting of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) mathematics, one man believes he has discovered a way to help improve the passes in the coming years.

Bruce York — born in Kingston but educated at Langley Park School for Boys in Kent and at the University of California in the United States, where he studied business for two years — has created a website, CSEConline.com, which he predicts will change the apprehensive approach of most students to the subject.

"When students are taught in school, they are expected to understand and remember everything they learnt in the year and sometimes it is difficult to remember things that you did six months ago — especially when it comes to math. Without continued study and revision, it is easy to forget most of what you learnt by the time the test has come. That is why this website is so important, as, [because of it], students will not forget," York told Career & Education.

York, who has for the past 12 years owned and operated Almena Computer College — an educational institute in Montego Bay that teaches, among other things, information technology, graphics, web design, video editing, and computer repairs — first approached the HEART Trust/NTA with an offer to create an online education programme on its behalf.

He was told such a programme already existed at HEART.

"But when I called the HEART NTA offices around Jamaica, I was repeatedly told that they do not have online training. This greatly frustrated me," disclosed the 40-year-old.

Not one to be easily discouraged, York embarked on the creation of his own website. Given the poor performance of Jamaican students in math over the years, he opted to begin with that subject.

Recent CSEC results revealed that only 31.7 per cent of the 50,000 students who sat the mathematics exam in 2012 were successful. This was down from 33.2 per cent in 2011 and 39.5 per cent in 2010.

Today, York's site offers more than 200 video tutorials, which cover the entire CSEC mathematics syllabus. It also has a live chat feature that allows participants to communicate with a math tutor online, as well as blogs allowing them to communicate with other participants about different math topics.

Tests and quizzes, which immediately show results when completed, are also provided.

"Many times in school, teachers have to move quickly over a certain topic and if the student has not fully grasped this topic -- algebra as an example — they will definitely have problems with other topics," said York.

"And if they do not understand basic number theory and computation before they take algebra, they will have problems understanding algebra. So this website covers all topics in the entire syllabus — number theory, computation, graphs, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, measurements, etc," he added.

According to York, students can watch videos repeatedly and at their own pace until they get a full understanding of each topic.

"So by the time they are ready for the test, they will have mastered the subject," he said.

Video tutorials on CSEConline.com are done by Howard Atkins, a mathematics teacher from Anchovy High in St James whom York describes as an educator with a passion for mathematics and who understands the areas that most students find difficult.

Meanwhile, York said the site is appropriate for persons who have failed mathematics but who may not have the time to go into a regular classroom or who may feel intimidated in that setting. Studying the subject online, he said, provides them with the opportunity to undertake preparations for the subject at their own pace.

Other benefits, according to information from the recently completedly site, include:

* being able to study from the comfort of one's own home;

* the ability to reduce transportation costs associated with learning in a formal classroom setting; and

* avoiding the expense of textbooks.

The cost of accessing the service is US$17 (J$1,500) per month.

York hopes to include CSEC English and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) subjects on his site soon.

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