EduFocal is an online social learning community. The company is focused on using technology to enrich the learning experience outside of the classroom as well as to help ideate and innovate the way we move forward with technology in education.
The idea to create EduFocal came to Gordon Swaby in 2010 and more than 2-million lines of coding later EduFocal Limited was launched at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on March 15, 2012.
Of EduFocal, Swaby says it is an “intuitive product that isn’t only cool and fun to use but also boosts students comprehension and retention skills. EduFocal’s mission is to become the premiere social learning platform in the Caribbean”.
The social learning community offers over 15,000 preparatory questions for the PEP and CSEC programmes, presented in a manner akin to popular role-playing games (RPG). As students go through and complete the questions on EduFocal’s website, they are rewarded with experience points which allows them to ‘level up’. The more experience points students get and the higher up in levels they go, they will be able to unlock rewards from EduFocal.
Qualified educators in the various subject areas including English Language, Mathematics (students can see worked solutions for hundreds of math Questions on EduFocal), History, Geography, Information Technology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Social Studies and more prepare the questions presented to students. These educators are paid by EduFocal.
Currently, EduFocal Ltd employs 5 persons, with Swaby leading the company as its CEO.
Even the logo for EduFocal tells a story – the overlappng of the shapes represents EduFocal’s mission of connecting students with teachers. The shapes also represent how students can become mentors as they learn and reach a certain level. This is shown by the shape of the swirls, which starts as a small point, and then grows and widens until they overlap to create a full circle.
EduFocal is fun for students as we incorporate game-like elements to make learning enjoyable. Students earn experience points for all correct answers, compete against friends and other EduFocal subscribers on our leaderboard and so much more.
Primary Exit Profile (PEP) is Jamaica’s national high school entrance test. It is a series of assessments taken in Grades 4, 5 and 6 and replaces the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT). There are 4 subjects, namely, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science and Mathematics.
Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) is the regional examination offered by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) at the high school level. This examination takes place in January for re-sit and private candidates; and in May/June for in-school candidates.
The CXC comprises of 16 participating countries: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Monsterrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos Islands.
The council offers a total of 33 subjects at the General and Technical Proficiency.
EduFocal brings new method to online learning in Jamaica
The following is an excerpt from the media launch of EduFocal in 2012 via the Jamaica Observer.
IT can be more or less agreed that students today spend much of their time online on social networks. Many parents are concerned that this detracts from study time. But what if there were a ‘social network’ that facilitated exam preparation in a fun and interesting way?
in 2012, then 21-year-old Gordon Swaby launched EduFocal; an online interactive learning community for GSAT and CSEC students, which he conceptualised in August 2010.
The site gives an opportunity for registered students to access exam-type questions in various subject areas. Each subject area is divided into topics and then further divided into levels so that students can focus on and master one topic as a time. The student can choose to complete a practice test or timed test and is able to receive assistance from peers and teachers, who can set questions to be answered through a discussion board.
As students successfully master a level and topic, they gain experience points which he/she can use to win prizes from various sponsors. Teachers are also given the opportunity to receive commission from submitting questions and assisting students with their answers.
Swaby went on to explain that EduFocal is accessible to any student with an Internet connection at a minimal cost of only $200 per month or $2,000 per year (rates may have change now in 2020).
Guest speaker, the Rev Ronald Thwaites, the then minister of education, applauded the project and noted that because the way our students learn has changed, it is important for us to move with the times to really work to have no child left behind.
He added: “Currently parents spend $20 billion on remedial studies and extra lessons per year. I have no doubt that with EduFocal offering so much for so little, students have more opportunities to reach their full potential.”
The site is now up, with mathematics being the only subject area available; but other subjects will be added soon. Payment for the service will be as easy as accessing the site with approximately 3,000 merchants islandwide in the next three weeks, as well as PayPal and credit card options coming soon.
The TEENage team applauds Gordon for his work as a young entrepreneur; and like Julian Robinson, minister of state in the Ministry of Energy, Mining and ICT, stated: “We need to open the doors for more people like Gordon, because we need not go overseas for solutions, products and services that our own people here at home can offer.”