Primary learning gets smarter with IT

| 01/06/2015 | 14 Comments
Cayman News Service

Interactive White Board

(CNS): The education minister has revealed that every government primary school will have smart boards in the classrooms by the start of the 2015-16 academic year. Interactive White Boards have been steadily added to government classrooms but 100% of primary classes and 60% of all public high schools rooms will have them and the relevant software by the time the new term starts.

“In the core areas of literacy, numeracy and science, educators have developed a plethora of content to be used interactively,” the minister said in the Legislative Assembly last week as she explained the advantages the boards and bragged about IT improvements throughout the education system.

She said that research has shown that IWBs are best at the primary school level, while the IT focus for high school students is access to laptops and other educational technology.

The ministry has also been working on improving school websites to take advantage of social media and be integrated with SIMS Learning Gateway (SLG), which is the web-based, online portal for teachers, connected to the schools’ central information management system (SIMS).

“This upgrade will also create a much-needed intranet for the internal sharing of information within schools,” Rivers said, adding that these web-based online portals would be made accessible to students and parents during the 2015/16 school year.

Rivers said the ministry’s ICT team had improved the networks and campus Wi-Fi for educational environments at East End Primary School, Edna M. Moyle Primary School, Sir John A. Cumber Primary School, Lighthouse School and the Cayman Islands Further Education Centre (CIFEC) in the 2014/15 school year.

During the summer months, wireless network upgrades for George Town Primary School, Red Bay Primary School, Savannah Primary School, Prospect Primary School, Bodden Town Primary School, Creek & Spot Bay Infant and Junior School sites, West End Primary School, John Gray High School, Layman Scott High School, Department of Education Services and Teachers Centre, Cayman Brac, are scheduled and will be ready for the 2015/16 school year, she said.  Meanwhile, the national online library system will be integrated with existing school libraries and improved access to e-books and bandwidth has been increased for all schools

A private donation supplied 106 iPads for students at Lighthouse School with appropriate software for the special needs students. Ten laptops and tablets were also donated by district residents to the Edna M. Moyle Primary School

As well as getting the technology into the hands of students, the minister also pointed to the need to improve provision of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Expected to be the fastest growing job sector in the coming decade, STEM workers are less likely to be unemployed and earn 26% more than non-STEM workers and Lego may be the answer to addressing the shortage of workers in this field.

“In an effort to address the local STEM skills shortage, the Department of Education Services is also implementing a new ICT-related initiative in the classroom itself. Lego Education WeDo and Lego Mindstorms Education EV3 robotics kits were purchased for government primary and high schools respectively. The kits combine the creativity of Lego to construct and build, while adding the dimension of problem solving, logic and programming to the various projects students undertake. Both kits have a variety of projects based on the Lego Education 4C philosophy of ‘Connect, Construct, Continue and Contemplate’. The projects initially allow students to connect with a familiar concept, whether it is a problem where there is a need to generate air from a fan, or a sensor that prevents a car from crashing,” she explained.

Rivers said government schools will incorporate the robotics kits into the delivery of instruction in maths, science, literacy and ICT, through the various projects

“Schools have received kits already and will have enough to serve up to 16 students in a class at any given time. Individual schools are planning for the use of the kits and are considering both classroom use and after-school clubs,” she added.

“This government recognizes the need to continue to invest in our students and our education system as a whole in an attempt to create a centre of educational excellence, and to prepare students to take advantage of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities that exist in order to excel in the local economy and compete in the global economy,” Rivers said.

Statement to the LA by Education Minister Tara Rivers – ICT and STEM in Schools – 27th MAY 2015

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Category: Education, Local News

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What would you do without the Jamaican teachers to teach your children?




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  2. Big up board says:

    Maybe this will help all of our Jamaican teachers who use patois in the classroom……..




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  3. Anom says:

    Anonymous at 8.24am – before the last election, the Ministry and Department employed quite a few people who really knew their stuff and whose advice was actually listened to by the Minister. One by one, though, a lot of those people have been “let go”, leaving inexperienced people in acting capacities in all the top posts. There is no doubt that teaching and learning in government schools is a lot better than it was but those gains will quickly evaporate again if the quality of support and training for teachers isn’t there. IT equipment won’t make any difference to standards in itself nor, actually, will the employment of extra teachers’ aides – all the research points to the quality of teaching as the key factor in achievement. I really fear for the future of education in Cayman, if this government is focussing on the frosting on top, without investing in quality ingredients for the cake……




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  4. Anonymous says:

    But, wait! What about spending available money (which should already have been assigned) on the new school? This is a more pressing need and long overdue for GT and WB.




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  5. Anonymous says:

    Primary learning will not get smarter with IT. It will just be a whole bunch of money wasted by a Minister who knows absolutely nothing about education and clearly has not brought herself up to speed on current thinking.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    What is this classroom toy costing?




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  7. Anonymous says:

    Tell me its not true for the love of God!




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  8. Anonymous says:

    Does the Education Minister not read any of the research? Do she not ask the experts on her team for their educated opinion and benefit from their experience? Does it always have to be about buying new technology? The ignorance is breathtaking and you can bet your bottom dollar she has not consulted her own people on this.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    Sadly in Cayman we throw money at a problem and expect it to magically disappear. Real change takes time, perseverance, training and sustained support. Interactive White Boards are a nice toy but unnecessary and will not improve the education that our children receive.




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Why do we always try to find a magic solution/easy fix to our problems in Cayman? Just to grab the headlines for a bit or show that we are “doing something”? Until all sorts of other things change -including (but not limited to) the dysfunctional backgrounds so many of our children are coming from leading to their displaying appalling behavior totally non conducive to learning, the entitlement mentality, and sub par teaching by too many teachers – no progress will ever be made.




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  11. That’s too bad as microwave radiation from WiFi routers have been classified as a Class 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organization in May of 2011. No amount of information seems able to stop this as the greedy telecommunications companies control the FDA and FCC. More information: http://www.wirelesswatchblog.org/
    There is not one study that proves that any of this crap that is being used in schools improves anything but the profits of the telecommunications companies that have bamboozled and brainwashed educators into thinking this stuff is necessary. now the curriculum that is being written requires the hardware that they sell. It is now a closed loop system that can’t be altered without an enormous effort. Meanwhile the microwave radiation that our kids and teachers are working under is a carcinogen, a genotoxin, a neurotoxin and many will develop horrible health problems from the biological effects of this technology that was never premarket safety tested. Who will go to jail for this?? The joke is on us.




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Smart Boards? Can we fix the ongoing “gang problems” in the schools, teachers hitting the kids, kids hitting the teachers, parents ignoring their kids problems??? Lets ignore the main problem and go spend money we don’t have on SMART BOARDS!!! If we don’t have smart teachers to teach our kinds what good are smart boards….




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  13. Anonymous says:

    Nice, but not a necessity. A better use of money would have been to train and provide classroom aides to assist the teachers so they may better meet the needs of students. But, what do I know. I am just a Caymanian teacher with 20 years plus teaching experience.




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  14. Anon says:

    Sadly, international research has consistently failed to demonstrate any positive impact on achievement from the use of interactive whiteboards (or any other computer equipment) in classrooms. They are just another tool and only as good as the teacher using them…..




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