Co-Founder and CEO of the social learning resource, EduFocal Limited, Gordon Swaby has declared the e-learning platform an essential resource in levelling the playing field for Jamaican students, in preparation for the upcoming Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations. The CEO’s position has been underscored by feedback and data acquired through the provision of free access to EduFocal’s online learning resources to support PEP students in grades four through six, since March 13, 2020. A crucial move Swaby has implemented, with support from corporate Jamaica, for more students to benefit from a ‘blended approach’ to the Ministry of Youth, Education and Information’s curriculum.
In a recent interview, Swaby divulged the benefits of the blended approach. “The blended approach of online and traditional learning allows us to engage and educate all students, even those who learn differently – through targeted creative social online resources. With the blended approach, I foresee the integration of traditional learning in a classroom setting with students learning online. This approach can facilitate distance learning at least two days, weekly … students can forego the commute to school and receive their lessons digitally. This advent will have a positive effect on the environment, lessening traffic and emissions and ultimately our [Jamaica’s] carbon footprint.”
In lobbying for a case study to be implemented in at least one school locally, Swaby explained, “Technology can complement traditional methods. For one, it allows for faster assessment of our children. What takes teachers weeks or months to discover the learning challenges of a child in traditional classrooms can be achieved in a vastly shorter time using technology. Traditional classrooms are necessary, but with Gen Z kids having a natural knack for technology, which is the new norm, we have seen a high success rate in the testing of our [EduFocal] children. My suggestion is to test the theory practically through at least one physical learning institution. From there, further assessments, recommendations and actions can be taken before broader implementation at the national level.”
Approximately 30,000 students signed up for free access to EduFocal’s platform during the initial 14 – day Government-mandated school closure in March. EduFocal has since extended its offering to PEP students through to the end of April in anticipation of schools reopening. The [extension is possible], with support from corporate partners such as Wisynco Group Limited (WGL) and its associated brands Tru-Juice and JP St Mary’s; in collaboration with Sagicor Foundation and the National Baking Company Foundation.
Mr Swaby also highlighted the company’s increased hiring of teachers to meet the demand; and the positive feedback from subscribers from rural preparatory and primary schools that now have access to highly trained teachers via the website’s new EduFocal L!VE classes during April.
The CEO stated, “As corporate citizens, we felt it was our duty to provide additional resources to Jamaican students at this critical time. EduFocal L!VE highlights the need for a multifaceted approach in how students are taught to support the traditional approach. The blended approach is the first step to acknowledging our need to incorporate digital resources within our school systems. We have hired quite a few teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic, for students all over the island to have direct access to specialist teachers.”
Further, incentives are being provided for students and teachers through EduFocal partners WGL, Tru Juice and JP St Mary’s; demonstrating their commitment to supporting the teaching profession and students during this time. Teachers are engaged by way of student nominations for a Teacher Appreciation Award and students are motivated through sponsor tokens.
The EduFocal L!VE weekly class schedule may be accessed via www.edufocal.com.