Bigger role for technology in education post-COVID-19, says principal

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Bigger role for technology in education post-COVID-19, says principal

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, March 28, 2020

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LUCEA, Hanover — President of the Jamaica Association of Principals of Secondary Schools Linvern Wright believes that during the post-COVID-19 period, schools will begin to make better use of existing technology in the delivery of education.

“A good thing coming out of [COVID-19] is that we might see a different learning landscape...,” Wright told the Jamaica Observer earlier this week.

“I think what has happened is that we have been used to traditional mode. Now, I think that we have got to be far more aware that there are other ways to give students access to us, and to learn outside of the standard delivery mode,” he said.

The Government ordered the closure of schools three weeks ago until March 27, as part of efforts to slow the rate of infection of the deadly coronavirus. The measure was further extended earlier this week to April 20.

Since the closure, school administrators, teachers, and other stakeholders have partnered with the Government to facilitate homeschooling via the Internet and other platforms.

Wright, who is the principal of Rusea's High School in Hanover, made it clear, however, that the use of technology such as online classes, should complement and not replace classroom teachers.

“The teachers are needed just the same to give guidance, because a fundamental part of teaching is class holding. When children don't understand, somebody needs to be there to explain, and sometimes the emotional content involved in education is something that we can't ignore,” he argued.

Wright stressed that while a number of schools have been using technology, “what you are going to have now are more schools buying into [the use of] technology to complement many of the things that we are doing”.

President of the Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA) Owen Speid, noted however, that Internet accessibility could stymie the use of technology to enhance teaching.

“When you look in some areas, you may feel that even though you are living in some communities that are close to the main in urban and suburban areas, you might find that you are not getting consistent service from them (service providers),” he argued.

Speid also lamented the failure of the Government to fulfil its promise of providing tablets to teachers.

The tablets, he pointed out, could aid teachers during the present outbreak of COVID-19.

Twenty-five thousand tablets were promised in 2017, as part of the compensation package negotiated by the JTA with the Government, for teachers.

Meanwhile, Speid believes that the reopening of schools will be pushed back to June, predicting that more people will be detected with COVID-19.

Up to Wednesday, there were 26 confirmed cases on the island, with one death.

Speid also believes that it may not be possible for the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate to be sat before September.


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