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The Netbook – The Real Education Revolution

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Tue, Nov 29, 2010

Editor: The one laptop per child initiative is the greatest educational investment in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The impact of this bold initiative is already being felt in the prevailing air of buoyancy in most classrooms.{{more}} The reduction in tardiness, truancy and homework delinquency is attributed to this great innovation. Indeed, its tremendous possibilities can only be maximised through prudent management, clinical supervision and creative teaching instructions.

The government must be applauded for undertaking such an insurmountable task in the investment of youth and education. Previously, the archaic curricula have rendered most teaching methods redundant and diagonal with prevailing technological advancements. However, this new educational thrust has quantum-leapt teaching/learning from the era of dinosaurs (chalk and talk) to the era of technology! Literacy in Information Technology has significantly improved as teachers, parents and pre-teens adapt to this innovation. Teachers cannot be faulted for their concerted effort in sourcing I T training and retooling in order to effectively facilitate the education process.

Words cannot adequately express the thrill of delivering a lesson with students using the netbook as a complementary text. However, this teaching utopia has met an unexpected snag caused by the intermittent Internet (WIFI) access in most schools. Fortunately, most teachers have shown their adaptability by switching to appropriate teaching techniques to negate this vagary. Therefore, the Inductive Approach has become a popular teaching method in which students are responsible to construct their own knowledge. This method facilitates a more interactive classroom while building the students’ capacity in research methods. Ideally, the netbook has now become the main reference source since the student can research at his own pace.

Nevertheless, these accomplishments cannot conceal the fact that the one laptop per child initiative was literally thrust upon us with little or no preparation and training. The fact that there wasn’t a specific program or system in place to introduce and sustain this initiative speaks of a government’s emphasis in fulfilling an election promise/deadline rather than facilitating the smooth transition of the education process. Was it prudent to deliver these netbooks to schools (not Internet ready) at the backend of the school year? Was it smart to give the students a two-month fest of Neverball and Frozen Bubble which has since created an addiction? Why aren’t there more pre-installed educational games and or intellectually stimulated fun stuff?

An area of concern is the abuse of these netbooks by older siblings and adults who indulge in viewing pornographic and other prohibitive websites. Although aware of the consequences, these irresponsible adults persist in their selfish practices, causing the confiscation of the impressionable child’s laptop. Similarly, the culture of many Vincentians to “bad care” anything that is free is manifested in the numerous cases of abuse and malicious damage incurred on these priceless educational tools. Political mischief also plays a part in the misuse of these netbooks as was shockingly revealed by SVG Evening News two months ago. Is it coincidence that so many of the parents who allow these netbooks to reach to such appalling condition are from traditional “yellow” strongholds?

Constructively, there are numerous recommended educational sites that can be surfed to incorporate the netbook in order to facilitate the teaching/learning experience. This is necessary since the belated arrival of WIFI access in schools acts as a stimulus for teachers to maximise their capacity in the delivery of modern education instruction. The modern teacher can now transform his classroom into a virtual world as he navigates his excited students on an adventure through Cyberspace in order to arrive at a specific learning outcome! There is renewed vigour in schools as students and teachers look forward to exciting times ahead!

Collin CA$H Haywood

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