Sunday, 24 February 2013

The University of the West Indies, Mona launches Ebook & Tablet programme

Author: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker
Title: Ministers Hail UWI E-Book Project
Source: Jamaica Information Service
Date published: Thursday, 21 February 2013 09:16

This article reports on speeches made at the launch of the University of West Indies (UWI), Mona project dubbed the: ‘UWI/Total Electronic Solution Tablet (TEST)’. The reporter reports the reaction of the Education minister, the Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites commending the university for the initiative and stating how much the ministry spends on purchasing print materials annually.

Details are provided about the project which involves medical students receiving  tablet computers made by a local company JLMobile for a one time charge of US$200 with an arrangement for seven-month's warranty and technical support for the duration of the course. The electronic textbooks however are provided by an overseas-based company VitalSource, via its Bookshelf application. This arrangement is said to enable each student to access 18 core medical texts at a cost of US$199.76 per year. This sum is compared to the total cost of purchasing all 18 books in hard copy.

Also mentioned is the reaction of the Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, who also attended the launch. Minister Paulwell congratulated those responsible expressing his pleasure at the embrace of ICTs (Information Communication Technologies) in Jamaica to solve problems.

Further background is provided about how the e-book programme came into being.  The Principal, of UWI, Mona, Professor Gordon Shirley reportedly states that the project is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. Prof. Shirley also discusses the aims of the program and how the students will access the books. Prof. Shirley also mentions his hopes for the programme as well as the current adoption rate for this new initiative. He also announces in the report plans to expand the project across all faculties and future partnerships to introduce the programme to secondary institutions across the island.


Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, has hailed the University of the West Indies’ (UWI) electronic book (e-book) initiative, noting that it will save students significant sums in textbook costs.

Under the project, being piloted in the medical faculty, students will be able to digitally access all their texts and journals at a fraction of the cost of printed material.

Speaking at the official launch on Tuesday, February 19, at the Medical Sciences Building, Minister Thwaites said the initiative must be applauded, as it forms part of the Ministry’s thrust to use technology to improve the education system.

“We spend roughly $3 billion a year in this country purchasing school books. The state spends about a third of that and this project represents the application of technology, which will remove the burden of the heavy cost of printed material, which many of our parents can scarcely bear,” he stated.

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