Online teaching now made easierSaturday, March 28, 2020
BY ARTHUR HALL
WITH the Government opting to keep schools closed at least until after the Easter holiday, local technology company Zed-Makeyla is ramping up its online learning portal — RenWeb/FACTS SIS (School Information System).
RenWeb/FACTS SIS allows schools to interact with students online through class/group e-mail communication, school announcements, calendars, online testing and document media sharing.
According to Carlton Grant, managing director of Zed-Makeyla, the system can be deployed to continue the learning process and minimise the disruption in the delivery of lessons.
“The system also allows chat features similar to Facebook which allows for classroom wall discussions and the sharing of videos and documents related to the class,” Grant told the Jamaica Observer.
“The SIS also allows integration with Google Classroom Learning Management System which allows schools to use the power of the Google ecosystem to further enhance classroom activities with live video, classes and meetings,” added Grant.
He said the company has been offering schools in Jamaica this system since 2006-2007 and is prepared to offer technical support to the schools which want to sign up now.
“The system is also supported by a text messaging module and a newly created telegram (WhatsApp) facility that allows the school to blast messages to students and parents in an effective way right from the SIS.
“This allows for fast communication for all stakeholders to be quickly notified of any development in the schools,” said Grant as he noted that teachers are also able to use the system to do lesson plans and upload grades easily.
“We do not only sell the product but teach best practice operations to the institutions,” declared Grant.
He added that the RenWeb/FACTS platform allows it to develop specific applications for each school directly or indirectly.
Grant further argued that “Renweb/FACTS SIS is easy to use and is very useful as an introduction to schools that are not familiar with a robust learning management system such as Google Classroom, or school that they may not have the infrastructure and technical know-how to operate those robust systems.
“Zed-Makeyla is the leader in Web-based SIS. We started this first in 2000 and we introduced this to the education minister back in 2007-2008. At that time we informed the ministry that this would be the future trend in education system and that the resources, the infrastructure and the change in culture would be immediately necessary to embark on this journey.
“The discussion should now be on how we move forward in a comprehensive way to ensure teaching and learning continues with interaction with students and teachers, how equipped we are, the infrastructure, as well as the cultural shift required,” said Grant.
The initiative by Zed-Makeyla is expected to complement a move by the Ministry of Education, to expand online teaching and learning opportunities in the continuing effort to minimise the disruption of normal school activities as a result of the COVID-19 threat.
On Thursday the ministry, in partnership with One on One Educational Services Limited and Flow began providing students and teachers with 'zero-rated data' access to a Learning Management System for an initial two-week period.
According to the ministry this will be reviewed based on the needs during this time.
The platform will provide live public classes, teachers with opportunities to deliver classes privately and learning content aligned with the National Standards Curriculum, Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate, City and Guilds and Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate syllabi.
Instructions for students to access the link to the One on One/Flow platform and the timetable for live classes may be found at www.moey.gov.jm.
In addition to the live public classes, Grades 1 - 13 students can also access self-paced content in several subject areas on the platform, free of cost.
Ricardo Allen, president & CEO of the e-learning provider said, “Ease of access is crucial in times like these. This partnership allows more students and teachers to come together in the online space than was possible before. Although schools are closed, learning must continue and our platform makes it easy for teachers to carry on with their lessons and engage with students. The platform is also a valuable resource hub for students because they can access up to 18 syllabuses and other study material in a personalised or an interactive way”.
The One on One/Flow platform will also allow teachers to create a profile to invite and engage with their own students.
The education ministry said it is aware that not all schools may have access to platforms to allow teachers to continue engaging their students and as such limited number of Zoom accounts will also be available each day for one-hour sessions for teachers who may wish to use this medium to engage their students. When this option is activated, students who have received a link to the class will be able to participate in the lesson.
Instructions on how to access an account and generate a link will be sent to principals via bulletin. Principals are being asked to share this information with their teachers.
Online live chat support will be available to users six days each week, Monday to Saturday 8:00 am – 10:00 pm. Persons needing help can also visit the website at https://1on1support.1on1lms.com or e-mail the help desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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