Saturday 24 October, 2020

Teachers/students being provided with access to Google Classroom

iStock photo

iStock photo

Jamaica’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in partnership with Google, is providing each educational institution with a G-Suite for Education account through the domain.

The initiative which commenced on September 14 will see all teachers and students being provided with an email account provided by the ministry to access the system.

Minister of Education Fayval Williams gave the update Tuesday in a statement to the House of Representatives on the virtual reopening of schools which is slated for October 5.

She explained that the Google partnership will facilitate the implementation of the National Learning Management System (NLMS) at no cost to institutions.

“The account will provide schools with access to the full G-Suite for education applications. G-Suite for Education is a learning management application that includes the Google Classroom, which can be deployed school-wide as a single space to host all online classes while at school or from a remote location,” Williams further explained. 

Included in the Google Classroom is ‘Google Meet’ which supports live interactive teaching and learning activities.  The National Learning Management System will also provide school leaders, teachers and students with access to a collection of applications to perform the following tasks and more:

- Manage email accounts 

- Create presentation

- Schedule and track events

- Centrally store files

- Create spreadsheet documents

- Create and share Quizzes

- Perform word processing

- Utilize the electronic whiteboard (Jamboard)

- Record Students’ Grades

- Provide access to central monitoring for Education Officers to better support schools

Williams told the House that in an effort to support the efficient implementation and utilisation of the NLMS, the ministry has made ongoing Google Classroom training available to all teachers, through the Jamaica Teaching Council and through partnerships with local and overseas universities. 

She said principals, vice principals and other middle managers have been accessing leadership training through the National College for Educational Leadership. 

School-based system administrators have also been receiving training provided by the Enterprise School Management System Unit. This started on August 27 and has continued throughout the month of September.  Williams reminded school administrators to register their institution for this service by completing and submitting the NLMS form. Schools with their own G-Suite for education account are being asked to also complete the registration form and indicate the name of their G-Suite domain.

“Schools that have started to use the G-Suite or other LMS should switch over or work with our technical team to integrate their domain with the domain so that they can benefit from the fully-funded benefits afforded under the ministry’s partnership with Google,” said Williams. 

The minister noted that schools that are currently using other solutions such as the School Management System (SMS) offered by Renweb, Smart Term and other services providers can continue to do so while the ministry provides the technical support and required resources to enable these partnerships. 

Meanwhile, Williams also told the House that the ministry has entered into partnerships with telecommunications providers Digicel and Flow as well as cable provider ReadyTV to facilitate internet access and broadband services to enable the teaching and learning in all schools utilising the G-Suite Learning Management System domain being provided. 

“This means that all principals, teachers, students and parents can now be engaged in virtual/online teaching and learning activities without the need to utilise their personal internet data,” Williams remarked. 

She added that the ministry is also in the process of completing the negotiation for schools to have the bandwidth required to host lessons from the schools. An allocation to augment data support for teachers and students is also being considered. All the technical processes are being implemented including training of key stakeholders.  Already over 952 schools have activated their accounts. 

Flow and Digicel will also continue to offer reduced education data plans.  Once an individual subscribes to an education data plan, in addition to voice minutes and data, they will have zero-rated access to 17 frequently used learning platforms and websites via the Flow network and 128 frequently used learning platforms and websites via the Digicel network. 

ReadyTV will continue the installation of its system in the 100 communities approved by the ministry. The ministry is also exploring other initiatives to support the other 138 schools that cannot access any network. 

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