As technology continues to develop, we spend more and more of our time online. This is especially true for millennials, who came of age in the era of youtube, social media and smart phones. While many people see this as a negative, some are trying to use the online platform as a way to improve our education system.
Today Minister of Education, Patrick Faber, hosted his counterpart from Antigua and Barbuda, Michael Brown, and several other education stakeholders for a discussion on implementing e-learning into the Belizean curriculum. Antigua and Barbuda has already made the switch, so we spoke to both Ministers about the benefits of making the change here in Belize.
Hon. Patrick Faber - Minister of Education, Belize
"Minister Michael Brown and I met earlier this year and of course I heard from him about the initiative of digital textbooks that he had instituted in Antigua and Barbuda. So we invited him here as our special guest and for this celebration of education in this month of May and he brought with him the company that helped to roll out the digital platform in Antigua and Barbuda and so what we decided to do today was just to bring some of the stake holders together to start the discussion. I was stressed that there are no concrete plans yet and in fact we are just looking to see if this is something that we would want to do and from all impressions so far it is very much something that we want to do. In my own mind I decided that this is something that we need to do, but we want to make sure that the consultation is there with the stake holders that everybody is on-board so that when we move, we move together and that this kind of change is embraced and supported as we make this big decision."
Hon. Michael Brown - Min. of Education, Antigua & Barbados
"It's a discussion across that Caribbean where we like the rest of the world are transitional students to move towards an e-platform. If you put an interactive book on a device whether a laptop or tablet and you put a regular old fashion traditional paper book the question is which do you think would engage the students more, which would they be more excited about? The key thing is, we want to reenergize the educational experience and educational process, we want to make the process of acquiring information to transition into knowledge become more relevant, pertinent and connected to students lives and experience and at the same we factoring the very real circumstances where for most book especially text books, IT books, once they publish already you are already outdated. So to create that currency of stream of information that's definitely what our students need. It's where they are now and it's where we have to go and meet them."
Antigua isn't the only Caribbean country to have implement online learning into their school systems. In fact, according to TC Ashok, the developer of the ebooks, at least 10 other countries have benefited from the technology. Ashok spoke to us about the steps we need to take to integrate this new way of learning into our school systems...
Minister Faber stressed that Belize is still in the early stages of implementing online learning into our schools, and right now the focus is on consulting with as many stakeholders as possible.