Efficacy of e-text books programme comes under scrutiny

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Two professionals in the field of education have highlighted as “critical’ some components which must be considered if Antigua & Barbuda is to effectively roll out its e-text books platform.

The programme is intended to cut the cost associated with purchasing the hard copies through the Board of Education (BoE). However several questions are being asked about the quality of the content to be placed on the e-platform and its implementation process.

University of the West Indies (UWI) lecturer Dr Yewande Lewis-Fokum

Dr Yewande Lewis-Fokum who is a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, Mona, (UWI) with an extensive background in education, told OBSERVER media yesterday, evaluating the content of textbooks, whether or not they are electronic or hard copies, is critical because they must be in alignment with the curriculum and the syllabus set out by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).

Lewis-Fokum was equally concerned also that government had scrapped the pilot phase of the project and will instead proceed with its implementation.

“What a pilot does, it enables you to figure out the hiccups and ensures the process is implemented smoother.

“We assume many students know how to use this technology for their own purposes, but in terms of enhancing their own learning they have to know how to use the e-books to increase their comprehension,” Lewis-Fokum said.

She also stated, “E-books are here to stay and it is growing, but the impact on learning we are still discovering.”

Her comments came a day after an author raised concerns about the quality of the content to be produced for the e-book platform.

Richard Lewis was responding to claims that local teachers are being asked to produce additional content to augment the efforts of writers from an Indian company, FortunaPix, which produced partial content.

He said by doing this the Ministry of Education runs the risk of developing content that is not in keeping with CXC standards.

Also commenting on the issue was Educator Yvonne Reynolds, who also agreed instructors would need adequate exposure to properly teach their students.

“The teacher component is important. e-learning is a specific way of teaching, and if you cannot manage that properly, which is what a pilot would give you, then you are going to have a disaster on your hands,” Reynolds declared.

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