The UWI Mona to distribute more than 500 Devices to expand Internet Access for Distance Learning

A cross-sector partnership to support students at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), Mona Campus with distance learning will provide over 500 devices to students in need.

The University of the West Indies Development and Endowment Fund (UWIDEF) recently donated 500 new tablets whilst the World Bank through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), donated 15 laptops.

Staff of The UWI Mona are also on-board to lend support to students as the Mona Administrative and Technical Staff Association (MONATS) contributed 13 tablets.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Mona, Prof. Dale Webber, expressed his gratitude for the support stating, “We are so thankful to everyone that is stepping up to help us to close the digital divide. The support from various donors to assist our students with challenges to access online learning is very timely. The UWI Mona moved to remote and online teaching on April 14, and we are not certain how long we will have to engage in this mode so this support from our donors ensures that students who do not have devices at home can participate in distance learning.”

Prof Webber further noted that the University received a little over 500 devices, however, an initial needs assessment indicated that an additional 500 devices are required.

Speaking to measures that will be taken to ensure that those who are most in need will benefit, Principal Webber said these decisions will be data driven. “We will look at usage history to determine how those who have applied for a device have accessed our online systems in the past, for example whether they accessed the platforms off-campus, via a mobile device or through our libraries.” This, he said, is just one of the ways the University will assess since there are a limited number of devices and we want to be sure that they fall in the hands of those who need it most.”

(L-R) Professor Dale Webber, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Mona; Francine Warren-Kidd, Program Manager at UWIDEF; Rodanne Corney, Final Year Student; Christina Williams, President of the Guild of Students and Vice President of MONATS, Wayne Waite are pictured holding tablets which will be handed over to be distributed to students in need. More than 500 devices were donated as part of a cross-sector partnership with The University of the West Indies Development and Endowment Fund (UWIDEF), the World Bank through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the Mona Administrative and Technical Staff Association (MONATS).

Students will be able to access devices on a loan through The UWI Mona Library – which will continue to benefit UWI students with financial challenges to access online resources and complete assignments post-Covid-19. The University’s Library will be working with the Jamaica Library Service through Parish Libraries to distribute the devices.

Affordable Internet Access for Students

The Guild of Students was lauded by Principal Webber for their advocacy for students facing access challenges to ICT resources including internet access which ultimately resulted in a special arrangement with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) and Digicel – an Educational Plan which will benefit not only UWI students, but all students locally, from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. The Educational plan currently provides UWI students with unlimited access to five (5) of The UWI’s online teaching and learning platforms at a cost of $625 (for fourteen days).

The zero-rated platforms that are accessible are:

The UWI Mona Website: https://www.mona.uwi.edu/
OurVLE (LMS): https://ourvle.mona.uwi.edu
Student Email (MyMona): https://mymona.uwi.edu
Library (Exlibris): https://uwin-primo.hosted.exlibrisgroup.com/
EngVLE (Faculty of Engineering.): https://engvle.com

More Assistance for UWI Students

The UWI Alumni Association (UWIAA) Jamaica Chapter, through the COVID-19 Response Initiative is seeking to garner the support of Alumni and Friends of The UWI to donate either funds to provide students in need with data plans/internet access or electronic devices. To date the UWIAA has raised funds to provide a one-month subscription on the Digicel network for 55 students to access the online learning platform. The UWIAA New York Chapter is also garnering similar support for students for devices and funding for internet access.

“There will be a few students who despite our best efforts will not be able to participate in remote learning based on their geographic location and network availability in those areas. These students may opt to apply for a leave of absence if they are unable to gain access to the remote learning network,” said Professor Webber.

Students who are currently experiencing challenges with access to ICT resources, should make contact with their respective faculties or their guild faculty representative.

Photo Caption: Professor Dale Webber, Principal of The UWI Mona elbow bumps final year student, Rodanne Corney who is one of the beneficiaries set to receive a device donated though a cross-sector partnership to support students in need, access online learning platforms.

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