Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, has commended the Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) for launching its Distance and Online Education Platform, noting that the facility will enable more young people to access post-secondary education.
“Community colleges have been a vital part of our post-secondary and higher education system for more than four decades, providing affordable options for students who may not otherwise pursue education beyond grade 11.
“We have seen an increase in need to accelerate the pace at which our students are engaged in online courses. This is the direction in which the world is moving and our students must not be left behind,” Mrs. Williams said at the official launch of the platform on Wednesday (January 13).
The Distance and Online Education Platform provides a virtual classroom, where real-time lessons are held remotely, while offering the same level of interaction as a physical classroom.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information provided $5 million towards the initiative.
Executive Director, CCCJ, Dr. Donna Powell Wilson, thanked the Ministry for the investment.
“With that support, we were able to repurpose all our general education courses. In all, we have roughly 140 courses available for online delivery,” she noted.
She said the programme offers high-end e-learning components with discussion boards, peer assessment and more for each course.
“Our programmes are repurposed so that students will not miss the interaction with their classmates; they will not miss the interactions with their lecturers,” Dr. Powell Wilson noted.
With regard to conducting assessments and administering tests, she said that these will also be done online but with different strategies.
“Online assessment requires a new thinking, so we want to look at authentic assessment, where our students will be able to demonstrate what they fully grasp. We are building that out and it will come to fruition later on,” she said.
There are eight community colleges in Jamaica in 25 different locations across the island.
They are the Bethlehem Moravian College; Moneague College; the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE); Excelsior Community College; Montego Bay Community College; Brown’s Town Community College; Portmore Community College and Knox Community College.
The colleges offer programmes from the certificate, diploma, associate and baccalaureate levels as well as a number of continuing education courses.