The Ministry of Education announced on April 14th 2020 that schools may be out until September 2020, however, teaching and learning will have to continue and the vehicle for which this will be delivered is online.
There are numerous solutions available which schools can use for online teaching and learning. Over the past 10 years, CyberSafeTT has partnered with Blue Chip Technologies in deploying eLearning solutions to Primary and Secondary Schools in Trinidad and Tobago. In light of the quarantine restrictions and stay at home measures, we have put together an Online Learning Toolkit that can be adapted by any school.
The toolkit comprises of the following:
- edu.tt Domain – Emails & Website
- G Suite for Education – Classroom & Collaboration
- 3CX Web Meeting – Web & Video Conferencing
Any edu / edu.tt domain will provide benefits for your school as it validates you as an educational institution almost instantly. Such domains will enable you to have email addresses @yourschool.edu.tt and this is often all that is required to qualify for educational discounts of software and even access to various online services.
You can also use that domain to build yourschool.edu.tt website which will be the main portal of information for your school and provide an easy method of communication with students, teachers and parents.
G Suite for Education
G Suite or Google Apps for Education is a collection of tools designed to help teachers and students with online learning. It is free for schools and provides a secure collaboration environment accessible anytime anywhere. All of the tools are web based and therefore there is no requirement to be accessed on a dedicated or specific device, i.e. one day you can access on a laptop, and on a smartphone on another. The collection of software includes but is not limited to:
- Google Docs
- Google Slides
- Google Classroom
- Google Forms
- Google Meet
- Google Sites
- Google Sheets
If you registered with an edu.tt domain for example, all teachers and students can be given a user account such as firstname.lastname@example.org . This can be used to register students into a Google Classroom and have limited / restricted access to the uploaded content. This Google Classroom will be under the full control of the School and they can administer as needed. All of the added layers of security such as Two Factor Authentication and Spam Filtering also come bundled with this suite.
Schools can also consider using Google Chromebooks which can be a very affordable hardware solution for both teachers and students.
3CX Web Meeting
3CX may be primarily know for it’s software based PBX solutions however, it is also a huge player in the web and video conferencing arena. 3CX offers professional video conferencing capabilities and in response to the COVID19 situation, they are now offering its professional license for free to educational institutions for 1 year plus 6 months of cloud hosting.
The web conferencing feature, 3CX WebMeeting, enables students and teachers to meet face to face in an online classroom environment. Not only can they participate in discussions, but they can also make use of collaborative features such as whiteboard, polling and screen sharing, for a more interactive experience.
The free professional edition solution includes smartphone apps and a web app for making and receiving calls, chat and more, allowing teachers and school administrators to keep in contact with each other and with parents.
Schools can also make use of 3CX’s Live Chat and Talk plugin for websites so that parents can easily reach out to them free of charge.
The 3CX solution can also be considered by schools as a PBX which can help reduce the phone bill of the school over time.
Some questions we’ve been asked:
Why isn’t Zoom the recommended tool?
Zoom is a fantastic video conferencing tool and many schools and businesses have opted for this. The limitations in the free version of Zoom can become a challenge as usage becomes high. Also, features such as white board and in-session polling are being offered with the free version of 3CX. The PBX functionality of 3CX can also help to reduce telephony costs within the school and is therefore more than just a video conferencing tool. The main reason therefore for not including Zoom in this toolkit is potential cost and limited overall feature set.
Why didn’t Edmodo, Schoology, Moodle, PowerSchool or others make this list?
The list of Learning Management Systems is almost never ending and each system has its pros and cons. We choose the G Suite for Education platform as it is free and easy to set up. The tools included in the suite are often used by students, teachers and parents outside the classroom and therefore the support system for use of the suite of tools is large and often readily available. This is also the only suite which offers hardware designed specifically to be used with the Google ecosystem and is very affordable. In the end, from ease of use, signup and zero cost, G Suite for Education platform was the chosen platform by CyberSafeTT.
What about the Ministry of Education’s Learning Management Solution?
The learn.moe.gov.tt platform offered by the Ministry of Education, is a fantastic learning management solution available to all teachers and students in Trinidad and Tobago. The course content is relevant to the syllabus and there are many resources available for download.
The toolkit recommended by CyberSafeTT makes it easier for schools to have complete administrative control over their own Learning Management Solution with which they can collaborate with just their teachers and students. It allows for secure access by teachers, students and parents to view a child’s progress, grades, assignments all of which can be accomplished within the G Suite for Education tools.
CyberSafeTT recommends all students and teachers to sign up for an account on learn.moe.gov.tt and use the resources there as well as the resources provided by their school to achieve a comprehensive online learning experience.