Education gets technical

With the latest phase of Improving Teaching and Learning in the Cayman Islands training for teachers concluding a few weeks ago, Grand Cayman’s post-Ivan ITALIC recovery plans are well under way, states a release from Government Information Services.

‘Through ITALIC, we are leveraging technology to raise educational standards, said Minister for Education Roy Bodden.

‘It is one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the Ministry of Education, and has the potential to transform the way we teach and learn in the government education system.’

In addition to restoring damaged ITALIC systems in schools on Grand Cayman, plans are forging ahead on establishing teleconferencing facilities for Cayman Brac.

The facilities, to be based at the Teachers’ Centre, are expected to be completed before the end of this academic year.

Similar facilities will be created at the Schools’ Inspectorate to allow teachers in the Brac to participate remotely in meetings and training sessions. There were no losses to Information Communication Technology (ICT) equipment in Cayman Brac or Little Cayman.

Despite damage to a number of school sites on Grand Cayman, every effort has been made to continue ITALIC programmes in schools since Hurricane Ivan struck six months ago, the release says. The network, computers and other related equipment (printers, projectors, scanners, etc) at six of the facilities were badly damaged and needed to be repaired or replaced. Although not as severely damaged, all of the remaining schools on Grand Cayman sustained some loss.

‘Everyone is pulling together to return our schools to their pre-Ivan condition. We face challenges, particularly with the network damage, but temporary repairs have been made in most schools and we have been able to continue with our Internet-based curriculum software,’ said ITALIC Programme Manager Ann Hale.

As part of the ITALIC recovery programme, detailed assessments were carried out at each school, networks and equipment were tested and a report prepared identifying potential replacement needs. All reported teacher laptops that were damaged have been replaced. All but the George Town Primary School now have Internet access, and efforts continue to reconnect them. The main educational servers were rescued and relocated to the Schools’ Inspectorate.

The first batch of replacement PCs, cameras, camcorders, and projectors have been received and most have been distributed to the schools. Reconnection of fax and telephone lines at all schools is being worked on as a priority.

‘The permanent repairs will be made in accordance with school repair schedules. Along with the rebuilding of school structures, Ivan gave ITALIC an opportunity to accelerate its technology integration plan with the replacement of lost teaching materials with online curriculum and resources,’ said Mrs. Hale.

One of the original aims within the ITALIC initiative was to provide sufficient PCs in all classrooms in primary schools to provide greater access to technology in all lessons. This strategy was disrupted by Ivan, but preparations are now in place to implement the first phase which will focus on Years 1 and 2 and provide at least four laptops or PCs for each class in all government primary schools. The plan for secondary schools is to provide subject area labs for the core subjects, in addition to ICT teaching labs.