[Jamaica Gleaner] The Importance Of Machine Learning in Schools

[Jamaica Gleaner] The Importance Of Machine Learning in Schools

Machine learning is a subcategory of artificial intelligence where one builds models, programmes and applications, which become more accurate over time at predicting outcomes without explicitly being scripted or programmed to do so.

With machine learning, one creates or defines algorithms that can receive input data and use a ­combination of statistical analysis techniques to predict an output. Once created, the model grows and can predict additional outputs as new input data become available. Good models learn from feedback given based on their predictions and adapt to improve.

Machine learning is a new phenomenon in Jamaica and the Caribbean.

In education, technology is constantly finding new ways to improve how teachers showcase new ideas in front of their students. Machine Learning has ­tremendous potential, and using its power correctly, can bring some amazing benefits. The main ­challenge is actively integrating it within the educational process, and to date, this hasn’t been done in Jamaica or the Caribbean. So you have to wonder, how can machine learning improve the life of a student, teacher, or school administration?

Predicting Student Performance

One of the major advantages of machine learning is that it allows you to predict student performance naturally. It allows a teacher to identify weaknesses and provide some suggestions on how to improve. This leads to a more personalised and efficient learning solution that students will appreciate and enjoy.

Creating Custom Lessons

Thanks to machine learning, teachers can easily identify what type of activities and knowledge seem to be preferred by the entire class. That makes it easier to target those activities and improve on them all the time. This way, teachers can bring in some additional assistance and learning tools that will help achieve those goals naturally.

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Q and A with SmartTERM Learning Platform

Q and A with SmartTERM Learning Platform

What is SmartTerm LMS?

Smartterm is an enhanced learning platform that provides learning solutions to schools, corporate institutions and governments. One of the main visions of Smartterm is to enhance the way we educate in the Caribbean by providing administration, students, teachers, parents and governments with a seamless integrated experience.

Is it being used in Trinidad?

The Smartterm solution is geared toward the development of all schools in the Caribbean. Currently it is being optimized by schools in Jamaica who have reported improvements in the school’s operations. We are in discussions with Caribbean stakeholders such as CTU, CDB, Caribbean Ministries and others. With the changes being made in the education system of Trinidad and Tobago, Smartterm will be a complementary factor that will increase the success rate for all schools which will empower all students, no matter their background. We plan to make further advancements into Trinidad and Tobago for the year 2018.

How did the idea come about?

The idea of Smartterm came about by a group of individuals who traveled overseas for college/university and they saw how technology was being used in the classroom and thought that this is something that can be very useful in the Caribbean. They realised that they were able to learn at a much faster pace, and communication inside the classroom was much more efficient. They also realised that they were exposed to alot more content outside of the classroom which can break down barriers for learning in the Caribbean. With this knowledge ideas were pooled and Smartterm was developed

How is it different from Moodle?

Smartterm is different from Moodle firstly because it was created by Caribbean engineers with Caribbean Education and Caribbean school’s environment in mind. Moodle is a great product but it was not designed for the Caribbean. For example, there is no on the ground technical support, you would have to make expensive phone calls to the US in order to resolve problems. Also, Smartterm gives hands on training of the system at no cost to the school. Reporting with Moodle is limited whereas with SmartTerm we place particular attention on analytics which generates insights on learning patterns. These are a few key noteworthy differences.

Do you think tech as a subject should be made mandatory in primary and secondary education just like Math and Language?

The world is advancing rapidly and for us in the Caribbean to keep up we must be able to make adjustments as small as it may be. Most of our everyday interactions involve some level of technology, so why not introduce it at an earlier age? Tech as a mandatory subject in primary and secondary schools can be paired with Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Investments as a complete package. In terms of advancement in technology and students leaving the school environment to get into the world of work, Smartterm bridges that unfamiliarity of technology and working with systems.

Where is your headquarters located?

Smartterm’s headquarters is located in Kingston, Jamaica. Being present in Jamaica gives us a better leverage to the entire Caribbean region.

Is there any amount of adaptive learning in your LMS?

Yes. We leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to mine our data to come up with useful ways to create personalized learning environments. Who is this service targeted towards? The primary target audience will be schools that are looking to manage academic and administrative functions, including course management, financial management, timetable creation, content management, among others. However, parents and students are secondary targets as we continue to educate about the benefits of such a platform.

Do you have a sandbox where persons can try out your LMS?

We are currently making adjustments to our website so that persons can have first hand demonstrations and interactions with the system. However, in the meantime our team of experts are available to schedule a meeting with interested persons for a live demo.

Anything else you would like to add?

Let Us Work Together. As stakeholders in the future of Caribbean education, we need to work together in order to bring about positive change for the future generations who are depending on us. Governments, schools, teachers, parents, students and even future employers, none is excluded from the equation. We want to become partners for development because together we can do so much more. As an Education ICT Solution we are looking to scale across the region and seek to help impact schools and strengthen the education infrastructure. However, we truly believe that with the right attention by Caribbean governments, other stakeholders and adequate funding much more can be done.

Source: https://thetechremix.com/2018/01/29/q-and-a-with-smartterm-learning-platform/

Connect With Us!

Website:  www.smartterm.io

Email: info@smarttermlms.com

Phone: Shamir Saddler (CEO) – 1-202-491-1916

CyberSecurity in Caribbean ICT Education Solutions

CyberSecurity in Caribbean ICT Education Solutions

Many organizations are choosing to go online now, more than ever, with the notion of increased marketing efforts, reaching more customers and simply making their services much more efficient through SaaS base integrations. The advancement in technology at the beginning of the 21st century onwards has made this and so much more possible.

SmartTerm Ltd is a social enterprise with the mission of unlocking human potential through the advancement of education. This initiative was recently pitched at Forbes Under 30, where they spoke about using Machine Learning to transform education and prepare nations to become globally competitive was heard by a vast tech-audience. One of the main visions of Smartterm is to reinvent the way we educate in the Caribbean by providing administration and students with a seamless integrated experience. Combining technology with education is not a new procedure but with a goal of improving student outcomes, we see the need to improve education technology by making SmartTerm available for every teacher in every classroom. SmartTerm provides schools with a configurable, scalable, and easy-to-implement solution.  

SmartTerm operates simply by providing an innovative school/learning management system to Caribbean schools. Our system is designed for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of online education.  The idea is to provide an online platform for schools which can be accessed 24/7 by administration, teachers, students, and parents, and which has the ability to make the operations of schools much more efficient.

One can imagine the sensitivity of the information being gathered through the implementation of our system.  Many schools and organizations are maximizing cloud-based services in order to protect their physical information from theft, fires, and floods. Information placed online are still exposed to threats which is why the concepts of cybersecurity and content management are so important. Cybersecurity refers to a set of techniques used to protect the integrity of networks, programs, and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access.

According to Forbes, the global cybersecurity market is expected to reach 170 billion by 2020. This rapid market growth is being fuelled by an array of technology trends, including the onslaught of initiatives with ever-evolving security requirements, like “bring your own device” (BYOD) and the internet of things (IoT).  Also, the rapid adoption of cloud-based applications and workloads, extending security needs beyond the traditional data center; and stringent data protection mandates, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the National Institute of Security Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework.  Content management is also of grave importance as it directly relates to cybersecurity. It is the process of governing data/information from creation to permanent storage or deletion. It is often referred to as the digital content lifecycle and cybersecurity is the protection of this information.

To the core of cybersecurity is the protection of information and systems from major cyber threats. Cyber threats can take many forms, for example, application attacks, malware, ransomware, phishing and exploit kits. Unfortunately, cyber adversaries have learned to launch automated and sophisticated attacks using these tactics – at lower and lower costs. As a result, keeping pace with Cybersecurity strategy and operations can be a challenge, particularly in government and enterprise networks where, in their most disruptive form, cyber threats often take aim at political, military or infrastructural assets of a nation or its people.

In recent times, there has been an increase in cyber threats and the work of hackers has been more prevalent than back in the 80’s and 90’s.  Smartterm has a highly qualified team of engineers that are trained to implement the best technologies to ensure all information is safe and free from threats.  Safety mechanisms won’t stop hackers from trying to penetrate the system. Hackers are experts that are motivated by data and profits, who exploit any loops or weaknesses in a network or computer system and the online education/e-learning market is not an exception.  

For instance earlier this year the Jamaican Gleaner released an article with the heading “US$5,000 Or Else! – Hackers Hijack Data From 16 Jamaican Schools And Demand Ransom”. The essence of the article states that an online database hosted in the United States is being held hostage of information belonging to more than 14,000 Jamaican students from 16 local high schools. The hackers demanded US$5,000 for the release of the data.  This same system suffered a similar attack six years ago.  Another well-known example of system breaches is a series of recently disclosed critical Bluetooth flaws that affected billions of Android, iOS, Windows and Linux devices.  The problem was also discovered in millions of AI-based voice-activated personal assistants, including Google Home and Amazon Echo. Researchers have dubbed the attack that takes advantage of these code flaws “BlueBorne” since it is airborne and spreads via Bluetooth.

SmartTerm has been and continues to be on the guard for threats from hackers to its system.  We are removing the need for manual systems and storage, therefore, we place high importance on the security of our cloud-based solution. This platform will securely store data and streamline day-to-day operations for teachers, students and parents. The system is backed by Amazon Web Services (AWS) which holds security of customers to the highest priority.  We can definitely rely on the AWS security and reliability to boost the security of our own platform. Our proven results are the fact that there have been no breaches of our system and there are currently no apparent threats to the information of schools who are currently in the system.

Let Us Work Together

As stakeholders in the future of Caribbean education, we need to work together in order to bring about positive change for the future generations who are depending on us.  Governments, schools, teachers, parents, students and even future employers, none is excluded from the equation. We want to become partners for development because together we can do so much more. As an Education ICT Solution we are looking to scale across the region and seek to help impact schools, and strengthen the education infrastructure.  However, we truly believe that with the right attention by Caribbean governments, other stakeholders and adequate funding much more can be done.

Connect With Us!

Website:  www.smartterm.io

Email: info@smarttermlms.com

Phone: Shamir Saddler (CEO) – 1-202-491-1916

5 Factors to Consider before Purchasing an LMS for your School

5 Factors to Consider before Purchasing an LMS for your School

Results are encouraging

In today’s world technology has super advanced most of our day to day operations. It has definitely changed the way we communicate and interact, which brings me to the essence of this article, purchasing a Learning Management System for your school. Whether your school is thinking about implementing a Learning Management System or trying to better understand the current system, it is important to know what works for your school so that administrators, teachers, students, and parents can make the best of the LMS.

A Learning Management System is a software application designed for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting, and delivery of online education. Essentially, it is a very handy tool to help with the management of your school with the potential of making operations stress free. However, knowing exactly what you should expect from your LMS and how it suits the needs of your school is very critical before you actually make a purchase.

Here are 5 key features to look for when selecting your LMS

1. Manages and Tracks Students – Most, if not all, LMS manages and tracks students. However, you would want to compare managing and tracking features, for example, enrollment, gradebook, attendance, events etc. You will have to decide based on your school’s needs.

2. System Accessibility – Ensure that your LMS is accessible from any device, smartphones, tablets or website, and at anytime. Giving access to administration, teachers, students and parents at anytime is key.

3. Security – Hackers are becoming more and more prevalent and they are very skilled at what they do. Information pertaining to your school, especially student’s information, are very sensitive data that you definitely want to keep safe. So ensuring that the system provides a high level of security and this should be a major deciding factor.

4. Generates Analytics – Generating meaningful patterns of data will benefit your school and students in the long run as it is aimed at providing information to assist in decision making. Let’s say for instance, you want to find out how your standard two female students are performing in Math, you want a system that shows this data and over a period of time.

5. Provides On and Offline Support – Ensure that the system you are purchasing comes with both on and offline support. You don’t want to make the mistake of purchasing a system and you have to troubleshoot everything on your own or have to make expensive phone calls to someone in a different country/region.

Essentially, we are in the 21st century and purchasing a Learning Management System for your school is the direction you should be heading. It adds value to your school and makes the education process much more efficient for administration, teachers, students and parents. It all depends on what your school requires and finding a system that meets those requirements.

Encourage Students to Value the Process and not just the Outcome

Encourage Students to Value the Process and not just the Outcome

Philosophy is intrigued with the “ends” versus the “means.” This distinction is valuable in every area of life. “Means” refers to the journey taken to reach the desired goal – also known as the process — while “ends” refers to the destination itself – also referred to as the outcome. Growing up, people are generally concerned with where they will end up. Children are asked what they want to be in the future. One is rarely ever asked how they plan to get there.

Athletes spend many hours training for that special occasion: World Cup, Super Bowl, Olympics, World Series, etc. Spectators generally do not get to see all the preparation that goes into making the final product; however, for the athlete, the process is extremely important. Spectators do not care much about the process but put their focus on the final product — who wins the World Cup, Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series. When athletes fall in love with the destination and not the journey, disaster follows. We’ve seen this with Lance Armstrong, Marion Jones, and Shane Warne, to name a few – people who have failed drug tests and were subsequently banned from their respective sports. The win-at-all-cost mentality has led to the demise of many athletes.

In education, the process is just as important. Preparation is key to obtaining the desired result. However, many education systems put too much emphasis on the destination, which has led to the lack of development of its students. For example, there are teachers who focus on the answers to a math problem rather than the steps it takes to get there. This lack of focus on the process trickles down into the overall reasoning of the students. Not only will this impact students’ understanding of math, but also their understanding of all other subjects.

For education to advance, we need to focus on the right things. Let’s put more emphasis on the journey rather than the destination. Let’s also ask our students more questions and give fewer answers. When we place emphasis on the right things and teach our students that the process is as important as the outcome, we will see an increase in the level of thinking and overall educational productivity of our students. Fall in love with the process because it helps you to enjoy the outcome.

Is E-Learning important for the Caribbean?

Is E-Learning important for the Caribbean?

Results are encouraging

E-Learning refers to learning that is conducted online or over the internet. It is used in many countries to enhance delivery of content in schools, businesses, and other organizations.

There are a number of benefits for both students and administration by using e-Learning software. Here are a few:

1) It is more cost effective. Although the price for an e-Learning platform may be pricey, this price is offset by the ease of delivery of the course to students, and the time and resources saved by the teacher and school.

2) Minimizes travel costs. Prior to e-Learning software, teachers had to be physically present to deliver lessons. Studies have shown that e-Learning can reduce travel cost by up to 80%.

3) Provides consistent course delivery. Just like a stage performance, each one is different for a different audience. E-Learning keeps course delivery consistent so that everyone can access the same content.

4) Content can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. Whether by IOS, Android, Windows on a computer, tablet or cell phone, content can be accessed at all times.

With all these benefits, YES, e-Learning is important for Caribbean education to move forward.

How can we harness these benefits for the Caribbean?

Many areas in the Caribbean are void of internet access, which makes it difficult for e-Learning to be effectively implemented across countries. However, in areas where there is internet access, the benefits of e-Learning software needs to be harnessed.

When students get sick or represent their school at club or sporting events, classes are missed. E-Learning ensures that class content can be accessed online and from anywhere, thus reducing the need for students to be physically present in order to get the class content. Similarly, if a teacher needs to miss class, students who attend class don’t have to be held back. Therefore, we need to significantly invest in technology that will make it easy for our students, teachers, and schools.