University students in Georgetown, Linden, Bartica, Berbice and Anna Regina will now benefit from live online zoom classrooms following the launch of the University of Guyana (UG) Zoom Room project.
A statement from UG noted that the initiative is the first building blocks of its blended-learning architecture, which is preparing for the impending future and begins to fulfill the first aspirational goal of producing at least one graduate per Guyanese household.
The project will also enable the expansion of the university courses across the country without students physically attending classes.
Additionally, tertiary learning is now made easier under the global COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 18 zoom rooms will service 18 different locations across the university’s nine campuses in Georgetown, Linden, Berbice, Bartica and Anna Regina, enabling live classrooms to be broadcast to anywhere with a strong internet connection.
The initiative is part of a gift under the Stabroek Block Co-venturers Greater Guyana Initiative (GGI) to the tune of US$70,000.
Attending the launch virtually was UG Chancellor, Professor Edward Greene, who congratulated the UG team for conceptualising and executing the highly complex technical project.
Professor Greene further noted that the Zoom Rooms are a critical and dynamic tool for enhancing the conferencing and blended learning operations for UG and expressed appreciation to ExxonMobil Guyana and partners for supporting the initiative.
Additionally, UG Vice-Chancellor Professor, Paloma Mohamed-Martin, during brief remarks, explained that the original mission of the project when it was first negotiated by the Office of Philanthropy and Civic Engagement (PACE) in 2019 was to establish a digital information room to serve as a central space and operations centre to facilitate local and international teleconferencing meetings, virtual classrooms instructed from universities outside of Guyana, and a data bank facility and was intended to cater for 30 persons per session.
However, Professor Mohamed-Martin revealed that in 2020, the university’s vision was modified in response to the needs created by extended COVID-19 pandemic, the funds were repurposed, and the project re-designed to create 18 Zoom Rooms across the University of Guyana system.
Professor Mohamed-Martin further stated that one of the challenges in higher education across the world, is how to manage courses online that have a practical component to it. However, she highlighted that one innovative way the university is using the technology is to place the facility in labs so that during periods requiring distancing, students who are out of the labs can still be remotely immersed in the process and still also benefit from what is happening.