Sunday, October 25, 2020

Are Teachers and Students Struggling with MOE Tablets for Online Learning? Education Officials Say ‘Not So’

Over the weekend, the Ministry of Education issued a statement refuting claims posted on social media that its recent purchase of tablets for online learning is incompatible with the Zoom platform.

The Ministry of Education called attention to the post and labelled it “fake news” stating that it “has not purchased any devices that were not compatible with its platform.”

Their press statement goes on to say all of its devices, including the donated devices, are being used “in the management of school operations in the collection of data in the field and on our Office 365 Platform for the creation and sharing of documents.”

What are the claims by the social media user and did the Ministry of Education address the concerns?

The post tweeted by Latrae Rahming, a former press secretary in the Christie administration, claimed that the Ministry of Education  spent millions of dollars on computer tablets for virtual learning, finding out later that “the tablets were incompatible with the Zoom platform.”

Rahming claimed that because of this, the tablets “could not be used.”

When the Ministry fought back, it did not mention the tablets’ compatibility for the Zoom platform which shot to fame during the coronavirus lockdowns, becoming a leading platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars.

However, the Ministry of Education stated that the tablets were compatible for its Office 365 platform.

What are the claims by teachers?

A few teachers in response to the post, have agreed with Rahming, claiming that tablets are not compatible with Zoom.

One claiming to be an educator said, “It’s definitely not fake news.”

Another said, “…attempted to access all mentioned in this document with no success.”

President of Bahamas Union of Teachers Belinda Wilson in a spat with the Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd, told the Tribune that Lloyd “needs to make sure that schools throughout the Bahamas have reliable internet access, teachers have laptops and not tablets that are incompatible with Zoom platform.”

How many tablets were distributed?

Jeff Lloyd, in a report to the country last month, said his Ministry distributed 9,000 tablets to students in grades K–3 and seeks to assist more students in the lower primary level.

He said digital devices such as tablets, laptops, and projectors were distributed to
pre-school and lower primary schools on New Providence, Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island, Cat Island, South Andros, Acklins, San Salvador, Mayaguana and East Grand Bahama.

Lloyd added that approximately 500 school administrators have received devices in the
form of tablets, due to the Ministry’s partnership with BTC. Additionally, all teachers have access to a device along with high-speed internet connectivity on their school’s campus.

Since then, private partners have donated tablets to the Ministry.

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