Using Social Networks to Assist Learners in Open Schooling in Trinidad and Tobago
At present the National Open School of Trinidad and Tobago (NOSTT) operates many centres in several parts of Trinidad and Tobago. From its inception in 2007, the author has been a part of NOSTT in two different areas – first as a Mentor/tutor of Mathematics and more recently as a Learner Support Officer for central schools in Trinidad. Every August NOSTT begins a new cycle of registration for new learners in all its centres. The classes which follow are well populated and then as the weeks and months progress and the lives of learner’s change, the class sizes begin to decrease. The reasons for this are based on several factors, such as work related activities and responsibilities, domestic and social challenges and environmental situatedness. It is because of this reason that using a social network, like Facebook, was conceptualized to harness instruction, whereby all who wanted to continue can be catered for. The two major subjects of Mathematics and English Language were chosen as these groups were the hardest hit by the dropout ratio, they are also the largest classes. NOSTT has been struggling with its mandate to have a blended learning approach and create an Open and Distance Learning environment (ODL), but to date has only managed face-to-face classes. It is hoped that this paper will begin that transformation and showcase the need and importance of ODL as a necessary facet of Open Schools to its clientele in Trinidad and Tobago.