BY: LEANNE BENN
When it comes to the education systems in many Caribbean islands, there is one factor that may be common in most public schools. The lack of technology in the classroom. SmartTerm is a school and learning management platform aimed at improving and reinventing the role of technology in the classroom. Students should be able to feel comfortable when dealing with computers on a standard basis and ways in which to properly use and access the Internet. SmartTerm has spent a bit over four years, researching and analyzing this problem in the education system that plagues many different Caribbean countries.
The importance of having good and up to date learning facilities enables the students to advance in ways to almost match their North American peers. The concept is a smart school plus smart kids equal a smart term. It is a time-saving connection system similar to schools in North America. Administration, teachers, and kids can all connect online. For instance, a teacher can upload an assignment online that the students can access remotely and begin working. To actually make an impact in Caribbean markets, SmartTerm decided to target various schools this year in the Caribbean for the back to school season and they launched an essay competition for students. The feedback was tremendous as five different countries, had students actively participating.
“The Smarter Caribbean Essay Competition,” was open to all Caribbean students aged 8-19 years. The theme this year was “The Importance of Technology in Schools.” This would provide a clear insight into the way students view technology in their lives as well as how they dealt with the lack of proper education technology in Caribbean schools. Shamir Saddler is the CEO of the New York-based headquarters of SmartTerm and said in an official press release, “We wanted to get students thinking about how technology could help them become educated,” and while doing so, we wanted the winners to have technology at their fingertips. Giving back is part of our mission and so we will continue to do so.”
The five countries to participate were Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia and Grenada.
There were three main age categories for the essays, 8-11, 12-16 and 17-19. Each section had a winner and was rewarded with smart tablets and money vouchers. The amount of prizes distributed totaled over USD $10,000. The winners were Imani Chin of St Andrew High- School for Girl — Jamaica, (8-11) Brannakay Hardie of Jonathan Grant High School — Jamaica (12-16) and Hope Joseph of Queens College— Barbados (17-19). The section runner-ups also received money vouchers and each school is entitled to a free pilot of the SmartTerm School management and learning system. The best part of the essay competition is the engagement was seen not just from the students, but it was a collaborative effort by teachers and principals as well.
“ The response was outstanding. Not only were students actively participating by writing essays, but teachers and principals were engaged too. We’ve had parents and teachers inquire about technology use inside and outside the classroom. Education technology is a conversation that needs to happen in the Caribbean and we at SmartTerm are happy to spearhead it.” Sais Stuart Crooks, the COO of SmartTerm.
This essay competition is just one example of how SmartTerm hopes to engage Caribbean students and school in their technology platform. Some of the features that the winning schools now have access to include E-learning and mobile learning, where teachers can share assignments, create discussion boards among other features. They will also have access to account management for attendance, grades and other notifications and they also have access to a comprehensive report of the analytics of the school.