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Aptus Pi devices hoped to be effective solution for limited internet access in schools

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Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2022. 9:50 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The trial of the Aptus Pi pilot project is underway at 15 adult and continuing education (ACE) centers and evening divisions of Government-run high schools to test whether the device, in the words of CEO in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology Dian Castillo-Maheia, is “an effective solution for schools where internet access is a challenge – for places where connectivity would be a problem.”

The pilot project was launched a few weeks ago and each of the participating schools has been equipped with one device to be rotated among classrooms. So how will it work? Castillo-Maheia explains: “It’s like a mini-computer in a very small device. What it does is it allows you to connect to the device; it allows internet access without being online. With one Aptus device you can connect up to 30 devices within a certain range, and you can load on to the Aptus device different sites…You can have an Aptus device placed into a classroom, and then everyone would be able to connect to the device to access whatever has been loaded onto the device.”

The project also includes the use of NotesMaster, a platform of learning content and curriculum in various subjects, providing access to lessons by Belizean and international instructors.

Data is being collected through the end of the current academic year for evaluation. According to Castillo-Maheia, the project actually began five years ago and noted that sometimes things happen in a time and for a reason.

Grant funds from the Commonwealth of Learning program matched by the Ministry paid for the project, primarily training teachers in the use of the device.

Castillo-Maheia also noted that the Ministry is working on efforts to boost Internet infrastructure in schools, which she noted had been developed pre-pandemic and was limited or non-existent in some cases. But the Aptus Pi, it is hoped, will be developed into a handy stopgap to facilitate learning where the Internet is not readily accessible.

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