LAST Thursday, EduFocal Limited and Jamaica Observer Limited (JOL), through their brands TEENage Observer and Study Centre, officially announced their partnership.
The partnership will allow, through the purchase of a Sunday Observer, a free access code to the EduFocal platform, which can be used to register and access exam-type questions.
"EduFocal is a social learning electronic centre that incorporates gaming elements," explained Gordon Swaby, CEO of EduFocal Limited.
Swaby, 22, developed the platform to encourage out-of-class learning for students at the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT), and Caribbean Secondary Examination Council (CSEC) levels.
"Students love the competitiveness of the site," explained Swaby. "So far, we have only experienced a five-to-10 per cent abandonment rate, with the average face-time about 22 minutes."
These simple figures, he said, show that the students are excited and engaged.
The partnership with JOL comes almost one year after launching the site on March 16, 2012.
At the time, the site launched with mathematics as the only subject area, but that has grown to include social studies, Geography, information Technology and all the areas in GSAT.
Each subject area is divided into topics and then further divided into levels so that students can focus on and master one topic at a time. The student can choose to complete a practice test or timed test and is able to receive assistance from peers and teachers, who can set questions to be answered through a discussion board.
As students successfully master a level and topic, they gain experience points, which can be used to claim prizes.
Teachers are also given the opportunity to receive commission from submitting questions and assisting students with their answers.
Guest speaker in March, Rev Ronald Thwaites, minister of education, noted that because the way our students learn has changed, it is important for us to move with the times to really work to have no child left behind.
He said then that: "Parents spend $20 billion on remedial studies and extra lessons per year... and EduFocal is offering so much for so little. Students have more opportunities to reach their full potential."
In addressing the press conference on Thursday, minister of science, technology, energy and mining, Phillip Paulwell agreed that the platform is engaging the students that have an inquisitive and enquiring mind.
He highlighted one of the systems on EduFocal, that is in-line with a government programme.
"When the government developed the e-Learning system, we sought to film the best teachers, in their particular subject areas, and spread the lessons via the Internet," Paulwell said.
This methodology is somewhat mirrored with the EduFocal system, where teachers specialise in specific subjects and post tests on the site.
Adam Stewart, deputy chairman and CEO of JOL in addressing the gathering said: "The root cause of the problems in Jamaica, and the wider world, lack of education can be pointed out. Education can set free the people, business community and the economy."
The partnership with EduFocal expands a tradition for education adopted by the JOL.
Vernon Davidson, executive editor of publications, said the newspaper role covers more than reporting news.
"We believe strongly that we have a role to play in the country's development," he said, adding that the company will always support organisations and individuals who also work towards that goal.
The company has, for 16 years published CSEC study guides and lesson plans, through its books and the 20-page Study Guide publication, which appears in the TEENage Observer magazine on Tuesdays.