Online Learning in Higher Education in Jamaica: THE MICO’S RESPONSE

November 28, 2021 0 comments Dr. Marston Thomas, PhD, JP Categories Updates

ONLINE TEACHING and learning have grown exponentially in Jamaica and there are clear signs that this growth will continue in the future. Chief Executive Officer for edX, Anant Agarwal, shared that online learners worldwide have increased fifteen-fold, that is, there is an observed 161 per cent growth in the number of learners who have enrolled in online programmes since 2019. It is projected that this growth will continue in the coming years (Capture Higher Ed, 2018), based on the COVID19 pandemic and the forced decision by schools to transition to remote learning. Based on UNESCO reports, "more than 1.5 billion students in 165 countries have been affected by the lockdown of schools", and as such, schools had no choice but to embrace the paradigm shift and see online learning as a viable option (Education Response to COVID-19 in the Caribbean, UNESCO, 2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic propelled The Mico University College to bolster its Instructional Technology and Distance Education (ITDE) organisational structure to serve the needs of the community. Additional staff were recruited to provide online mentorship and coaching to students and faculty, and additional technology resources were secured to ensure our seamless transition to cyberspace. The trepidation surrounding online learning is evident locally, regionally, and internationally, but The Mico with its rich legacy of resilience has orchestrated transition and stabilisation plans that are well crafted to meet the challenges affecting the education sector. Though schools locally have had difficulties reopening their campuses, The Mico's virtual campus is growing stronger and is poised to realise its strategic objective of increasing its population by 50 per cent with fully online students.

The ITDE integration in higher education hinge heavily on global trends in education and diversification of programme offerings. The ITDE Department at The Mico is making strides in improving its structure to design fully online programmes in response to the demands of the markets nationally, regionally, and globally. Our customers, our students, will be provided with the flexibility to access education anytime, anywhere, guided by our online theme 'Renewal and Innovation'.

Online education is no longer seen as a trend for higher education, but a necessity with over one-third of all college students engaged in online programmes (Dhawan, 2020). Angus (2017) reported that the Council of Community Colleges in Jamaica was given the mandate to increase the number of programmes being offered fully online and in blended modalities, and this projection is expected to increase over time. The Mico University College stands ready to capitalise on the recommendation of the Council of Community Colleges. The Mico has taken the lead to prepare teachers to design technology-rich learning environments in keeping with the ICT framework of the Ministry of Education.

Director Online Learning Department, The Mico University College

Chang, Z., & Kintu, J. M. (2015). A SWOT analysis of the integration of e-learning at a university in Uganda and a university in Tanzania. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, V24 n5 p585-603 Education Response to COVID-19 in the Caribbean, UNESCO, 2020. Vision 2030 Jamaica. Retrieved:, T. (1999). Roles and tasks for the provost in a developing university. Retrieved: Roles and Tasks for the Provost in a Developing University

This article first appeared in the Sunday Gleaner, November 28, 2021 - Jamaica, as part of a national celebration of The Mico's 185th Anniversary Celebration. From PressReader >