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UWI Mona Goes Digital – Students to Reap Benefits from Introduction of E-books and Smart Tablets

Minister of Education, Ronald Thwaites (right) keenly observes one of the Android 4.0 SmartTab tablets which will be offered to students of The University of the West Indies Mona as an affordable option to access  e-books. Sharing in the moment are (from left): Professor Gordon Shirley, Principal, UWI, Mona, Leona Bobb-Semple, Campus Librarian, Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy & Mining and Julian Robinson.
The University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona has introduced electronic books to students in the Faculty of Medical Sciences, making the programme more affordable to its students. This is another innovation for The UWI Mona, being the first educational institution in the English Speaking Caribbean to offer e-book services to students. The e-book programme which was launched at the new faculty of Basic Medical Sciences on February 19, 2013, was initiated as a response to the increasing cost of tertiary education, primarily the cost of text books in the Faculty of Medical Sciences.
The initiative aims to provide students studying at The UWI Mona, convenient and cost-effective access to textbooks; along with a seamless integration of technology into the teaching and learning experience. Speaking at the launch, Minister of Education Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites lauded The UWI Mona for the E-Book project. “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,” the minister stated.
The University has partnered with overseas based company VitalSource which via its application ‘Bookshelf’, allows students access to their required books and will automatically provide software updates for the duration of their studies.  Each student will have access to 18 of the core books needed to complete their entire programme at a cost of US$199.76 per year. This cost is a mere fraction of the total cost of purchasing all 18 books hard copy, as one of the required texts costs approximately JMD$23,000 (US$234).
Students will be able to read electronically on a variety of devices, including traditional computers, iPads, Amazon's Kindle, iPhones, and more. For those students who do not own a mobile device that allows easy access to their e-books, The UWI Mona has also provided a solution – a kit which includes an affordable seven inch Android 4.0 Smart tablet (SmartTab).
JL Mobile is the company that was commissioned by The UWI Mona to design, implement and provide all technical support to students as needed for the SmartTab. Designed in Jamaica by Jamaicans, the Smart Tabs come standard with USB, HDMI, and SD ports, features not found on big brand name tablets.  The SmartTab is covered by a seven month warranty, including free technical support, and will cost each student approximately US$200.
The long term plan is to roll out the e-book programme across all faculties, moving towards a digital University, thus heightening the overall learning experience. 

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