Antigua and Barbuda is a Caribbean country with less than 100,000 populations. It has over 25 senior secondary schools. Antigua and Barbuda had the Education Act of 2008 and the ICT in Education Policy of July 2003 before the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) started assisting with the review of the ICT in Education Policy to help the island state achieve its vision to encourage lifelong learning and educate its citizens to access and evaluate knowledge through creative problem-solving and critical thinking in preparation for work in a dynamic national, regional and global economy. The Minister of Education, Sports, Youth, and Gender Affairs (MESYG) and the Minister of Telecommunications, Science and Technology both expressed a strong determination to implement significant systemic transformation in schooling.
While the Ministry of Telecommunications, Science and Technology, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda deployed extensive ICT infrastructure in the secondary schooling system, the Government Assisted Technology Endeavor (GATE) project provided free access to mobile 4G LTE connections to every senior secondary student in 2013. Considering the developments and commitment in the country, COL assisted development of a new ICT in Education policy and ICT strategy for Education, which included a strong component of sharing educational resources developed with the assistance of public funds. The policy was adopted in June 2013 by the Cabinet of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
The policy recognizes the importance of technology-enabled learning and sharing of educational resources using an appropriate open license. The default license adopted by the policy is Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) with flexibility to the authors/creators to choose other Creative Commons license as well. The policy also envisages development of an Open Educational Resource (OER) repository in partnership with other members of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
Antigua and Barbuda initiated the development of a virtual learning environment (VLE), and with additional support from COL, an open textbook prototype repository was added to the VLE. The OERs in the repository were collected, examined for quality and tagged for easy retrieval. Working with specialist Mathematics educator, over 500 Mathematics OER from 72 different service providers were organized and sequenced within the VLE and mapped to the Caribbean Secondary Education Curriculum (CSEC) Mathematics syllabus. An online mathematics ‘textbook’ was thereby compiled from available quality free OER. According to Neil Butcher, a senior educational technology consultant, “the prototype could be used like a traditional static textbook (although with integrated multimedia and a range of tools available within the VLE environment), the OER VLE Prototype’s real power lies in providing students and educators the tools to manipulate and customize its resources”.
The 23rd meeting of the OECS Education Ministers held from 14-16 October 2013 approved the open textbook initiative for the OECS.