Above: John Devaux, left, and Cindy-Ann Gatt, right, with representatives of the ten schools who have joined the Flow-Pennacool ICT programme. All photos by Mark Lyndersay. Click on any image to enlarge.
Yesterday, Flow and pennacool.com launched the third year of their collaboration to improve the use ICT in education.
Flow supports Pennacool’s development and pairs that with a programme that supplies selected schools with a 100 gigabit connection and a bundle of ten Android tablets to be used in the classroom.
Ten new schools were added to the programme this year, bringing the total to 30 supported schools. Four hundred schools applied to be in the Flow support programme for the third cycle.
The deployment of technology in education hasn’t always been as successful as the hype promised, and a key stumbling block has been the disconnect between traditional pedagogy and the capabilities of digitally paced learning.
Bundle in the difficulty of bringing teachers into a meaningful engagement with a dramatically different way of dealing with their class environment and you have a recipe for problems.
“I am aware that there are concerns about ICT and learning,” said Jacinta Pinard, Brand Communications and Sponsorship Manager for Flow, “that artificial intelligence will limit the capabilities of learning, thereby making genuine curiosity almost obsolete.”
“But I beg to differ. Once used in the ideal and controlled setting, ICT technology can be used as support not a replacement for teachers and instruction.”
“Pennacool has given students a space where they can study at their own pace and measure their results,” said Cindy-Ann Gatt, Director of Marketing at Flow.
“The traditional passive learning model is broken.”
The Pennacool model of self-paced, accessible learning was lauded by Shazaad Mohammed, a standard five teacher at the Warrenville TIA Primary school who has made significant use of the project’s tools in his classroom.
“If we cannot keep up with technology in the classroom, we are going to lose our kids,” Mohammed said.
“I had a class that kids were strolling into at 8:30, 9:00 am. I come in at 7 and would put the devices to charge. Within a few weeks, all the children were showing up at 8. Any teacher will tell you that if you can get kids in early, you can get so much more done.”
“There is no replacement for good teaching. It is here to support teaching and learning.”
Mohammed introduced a bring your own device model to his class and got some additional tablets to amplify the learning opportunities.
Mohammed was particularly pleased with the reporting functions of the Pennacool webapp, which delivers general reporting that identified class learning trends as well as individual reports that made it clearer where a student is having difficulty.
According to director and co-founder of Pennacool, John Devaux, the student learning platform is used by students in 90 percent of schools in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Online content must be aligned with the syllabus,” Devaux said, noting that teachers tell his team that a Pennacool class session is like an outing.
There are 6,000 students currently using the platform, up from 4,000 in 2017. Pennacool targets students in standard four and five. The web app is accessible at no cost for teachers and students and has enjoyed uptake in the Caribbean region as well.
Cogland Griffith, Head of the National Principal’s Association and Principal of Cocorite Government Primary School, a participant in the programme, reported “amazing engagement” with students using the tablets to access the teaching materials.
“I’d look in, because they’re so avidly on the tablets, but no, it was work. Competitive performance and feedback are making a big difference in their schoolwork. It’s keen, healthy competition.”
The Pennacool-FLOW ICT in Education Project
Arima Boys’ R.C.
Chaguanas Government Primary School
Cunupia Government Primary School
Glosterlodge Moravian Primary School
Hermitage Presbyterian Primary School
La Pastora Government Primary School
Moulton Hall Methodist Primary School
Patna River Estate Government Primary School
South Oropouche R.C. Primary School
St. Julien Presbyterian Primary School
11. Caroni Hindu Primary School
12. Cocorite Government Primary School
13. Exchange R.C. Primary School
14. Penal Government Primary School
15. Point Fortin R.C. Primary School
16. Rousillac Hindu Primary School
17. Sangre Grande Government Primary School
18. Sangre Grande SDA Primary School
19. St. Joseph’s Girls’ R.C. Primary School
20. Warrenville T.I.A. Primary School
21. Arima Girls’ R.C. Primary School
22. Curepe (Holy Saviour) A.C. Primary School
23. Libertville T.M.L Primary School
24. Point Fortin A.C. Primary School
25. Princes Town Presbyterian No. 1 Primary School
26. Richmond Boys’ A.C. Primary School
27. St. Mary’s Anglican Primary School
28. St. Finbar’s R.C. Primary School
29. Success R.C. Primary School
30. Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary School