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Posts Tagged ‘trinidad’

An education network for the Caribbean

October 25, 2010 2 comments

In 2007, the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) proposed the creation of a regional research and education network for the Caribbean called called C@ribNET. The project has since been quietly in development and is now at the stage of developing the national networks between institutions that will eventually interconnect for the final product.

When completed, C@ribNET will allow collaboration of knowledge and ideas among institutes of higher learning across some twenty (20) Caribbean nations. It will provide a viable platform for knowledge sharing, e-Learning, e-Government and a whole host of other regional services. Further, C@ribNET will eventually allow connection to other knowledge networks across the globe.

In at least my opinion, this venture represents a significant step forward in integration of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the formation of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME). As citizens of the Information Age it is important to ensure regional and global communication, particularly at the research and education levels which the C@ribNET project is targeting. I look forward as well to the distance education opportunities that may arise out of this.

The project is expected to cost approximately US$20 million and is being sponsored by the European Union and the Inter-American Development Bank.

CKLN Website: www.ckln.org

Student Laptop Programme

October 2, 2010 6 comments

On Wednesday 29th September 2010, the Ministry of Education of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago began distribution of laptops for students entering secondary school for the first time. The initiative cost TT$83 million (approximately US$13 million) in direct acquisition costs but I am unable to locate any information on the cost allocated for training of the teachers and (presumably) improved infrastructure at the schools.

Based on my research, a summary of the machines would be follows:

  • 20,300 HP 425 Notebook Computers with Windows 7
  • 14″ LED-backlit display
  • 2.2 GHz AMD Athlon II Dual-Core Processor
  • 320 GB, 7200 RPM Hard Drive
  • 3 GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • 802.11b/g/n Wireless and Bluetooth radios
  • 9 cell battery
  • Carrying case
  • Microsoft Innovative Suite (MSIS) including Microsoft Office
  • Remote tracking and remote-wipe capability
  • Warranty, “Food and Beverage Damage” and spare parts warehoused in T&T

Unlike other classroom laptop projects around the world, T&T students will be permitted to take these laptops home and use them on their own time. Under the government’s plan, in the next five years all secondary school students will be equipped with a laptop computer. I am unsure what the government may have in mind for those students who choose to pursue the additional two years of Form 6 schooling.

While the general public argues over the merit of this project, there are some factors that IT Professionals, Educators and Market Analysts must bear in mind now that the initiative has become reality.

Brand Recognition: An entire generation will grow up on HP and Microsoft products. This is marketing at its best – by offering products at a massive discount today, an entire generation – and their parents – will become likely return customers in future. For those involved in PC supply and repair, expect a larger customer base in a few short years and an increase in HP products on the market. Developers and administrators can expect no reduction in the demand for Microsoft products and platforms. Perhaps it is time to start ramping up those SharePoint and Office Web Apps deployments.

Social Networking: As it is, we Trinis are on the social media bandwagon and it may be reasonable to expect a further significant increase in T&T Facebook and Twitter accounts in the coming  years. It is no secret that teenagers and young adults represent a significant market segment and now they will have laptops en masse.  I recall creating a Facebook advertisement targeted at Trinidadians and Tobagonians aged 16-34. When I entered these criteria into Facebook’s advertisement builder, it provided me an estimated reach of over 248,000 persons. This was a few months ago before any laptop distribution. Webmasters, App Developers, Business Strategists, Advertisers, take note!

Bandwidth: Internet access for teachers and students will be provided via the government’s Wide Area Network (WAN) known as GOVNETT. It is claimed this will have no impact on residential and commercial customers but I am skeptical: The speeds offered by ISPs are increasing – just recently my 10 Mbps cable package made a leap to 25 Mbps. However, my actual browsing and download speed has not really reflected this change. It suggests to me that our links to the outside world may be in need of an upgrade, particularly with a large number of students jumping on board. From what I can find, GOVNETT uses   the Telecommunication Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) and I would consider it poor design if there is no backup connection via a second ISP.

Training: Teacher education programmes will need to place a greater emphasis on using technology in the classroom. It simply will not do for the students to better understand the technology than their educators. The workforce is going to change. For several years now, employers have been increasingly asking for their workers to be computer literate. In order to stay relevant, older generations must return to the classroom and ensure that their ability to use the tools of the digital era are in line with their experience in their respective fields.

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