GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- If a technological experiment becomes favoured by regional educational stakeholders, then notebooks and textbooks for Caribbean students will soon be replaced by a single razor-thin tablet computer by the end of 2013.
Going to school, but with no more haversacks, no more pens, no more textbooks, no more worry about missing classes, and almost no need to write a single sentence may seem like a futuristic dream, but in a matter of weeks a tablet computer that offers exactly this feature may emerge for a sneak-peek from a Caribbean computer lab.
Intelligent Media Group, a developer of interactive training tools for educational institutions, is scheduled to present a prototype of the SmartPad tablet to regional educational stakeholders at a private session in Georgetown, Guyana, on November 24, 2012.
The private presentation is intended to give key players in the education sector an investigative insight into the tablet, in addition to seeking out their material input and recommendations, in a bid to ensure that the final design and functionalities of the computer is fully compliant with the needs of the region’s educational goals.
Promising to bring an end to the material challenges faced by Caribbean students pursuing the annual CSEC and CAPE level examinations, the tablet, labeled as “SmartPad for CSEC CAPE”, will encompass its own customized firmware, and a suite of applications specifically developed for the benefit of those students writing most of the subjects offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.
Thin as the Apple iPad, and offering superb HD image quality on a 10.1 inch capacitive touch screen, the smart computer comes preloaded with the Encyclopedia Britannica, a vast virtual library, an e-tutor, a SBA research smart assistant, dozens of educational applications, 47 customized textbooks, and several licensed e-versions of several required textbooks for students pursuing the CSEC CAPE subjects in the arts, business, IT, and science streams.
Once the tablet has passed its investigative and stakeholders analysis phase on November 24, several beta versions will be released to a selected group of Caribbean schools for further testing during February 2013, in preparation for its final release in April of the same year.
Questioned on the origin of the idea, lead designer of the tablet, and software engineer, Dennis Adonis, explained that the tablet concept has been in the making for the past two years. However, it only became a material reality after Google agreed to lend his team much needed support in order to develop it as an Android-powered hand-held computer.
He stressed that the original tablet was being designed to run on the Windows platform, but was forced into supporting the Android OS, because Android seem to offer more developer flexibility and application design options, in addition to ensuring that the tablet is much cheaper for Caribbean students to use and upgrade annually.
Only a few weeks ago, Registrar of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) Dr Didacus Jules had lamented on the need for the Caribbean educational system to embrace technological innovations and, by extension, utilize its full potential to better deliver and enhance the quality of education in the region.
Most technology companies have however complained that the Caribbean is not a lucrative market to make certain class of technology investments, especially in the education sector. Others have also bemoaned the lack of funding from government and the private sector for such projects, and reiterated that they would prefer to divert their energies elsewhere.
While agreeing with fellow tech companies on the investment risks involved, the management at Intelligent Media Group (the sole financier of the SmartPad tablet project) is optimistic that it would nonetheless become a lucrative venture in the long term, in addition to a crucial piece of innovation for the improvement of CXC’s CAPE education and training in the Caribbean.