Education Ministry Engages the Public on Laptop and Other Technological Issues

(EMU) – St. Kitts, May 4, 2012: Parents, guardians and others eager to be further enlightened about the means by which their children could maximize use of laptops provided under One-To-One Laptop Programme tuned in to ZIZ Radio and Television on Thursday (May 3), loaded with comments and questions.

Moderator of the “Issues in Education Programme” Dr. Michael Blake introduced the topic for the evening’s panel discussion as “The use of technology in Schools” but the discussion was heavily centered around laptops given to each high school student.

The laptops, which generated significant discourse and debate even prior to their distribution have raised a number of issues including the decision by Education officials to install Edubuntu Operating Software as opposed to the popular Windows software interface.

Panelists including CXC Registrar Solomon Claxton; Graduate ICT Teacher Gavin Blake and Education Planner; Quinton Morton added their insights to the various concerns and commendations raised including the use of Edubuntu which they explained was due to the fact that it is a non-virus environment – eliminating the need for the purchase of Anti-virus and other high cost software and maintenance costs.

The debate on the issue of the inappropriate use of the laptops by learners and other family members and the ensuing discussion as to whose responsibility it was to ensure that laptops were used for educationally beneficial purposes was brought to closure by Moderator Dr Blake.

“Like anything else there is the potential for good as well as negative use,” said the senior Education Officer “but once the laptops are at home the onus is on he parent and guardian to monitor the use of the laptop. Watch for the tell-tale signs. Only homes with weak parenting will allow the use of laptops for nefarious purposes.”

Other panelists underscored the view that students seeking to use the laptops extremely late at night and in private should be monitored closely. They suggested that parents make house rules including the use of the Laptops in “high traffic” locations in the home.

The topic of benefits of the use of Cell phones in the classroom was also discussed briefly but while there are case studies in some other countries that prove its potential to be beneficial, it was largely felt by panelists to be a distraction rather than an advantage at this time, given the fact that students would all need to purchase costly “Smart phones” as well as the general need to retrain pupils to see their cell phones as tools of learning rather than communicating.

According to Dr. Blake another in the series of the “Issues in Education” Programme” will return to ZIZ Radio and Television in the near future and the public would be invited to make valuable input once more.

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