Little Cayman gets Connected
Published 18th October 2007, 2:32pm
The tide is changing as Cayman’s Sister Islands are leading their larger sibling in the application of Information Communication Technology (ICT) as a learning tool in classrooms.
Through its ongoing partnership with world-renowned education innovations expert, Professor Stephen Heppell, the Education Ministry recently launched a mould-breaking ICT project in the Little Cayman Education Centre, providing the perfect antidote to its relatively remote location by connecting its students to others around the world via state-of-the-art technology.
Little Cayman’s four students, all boys between the ages of 4 and 10, are now making videos and music, working with animations and podcasts, blogging and sharing their work with parents, peers and newfound cyber-friends at Stepping Stones School in the UK, whose resident ICT expert, Jonathan Furness visited Cayman to install the equipment personally. Jonathan has been pushing the boundaries of ICT in education with Professor Heppell for many years and instantly recognized a synergy between the two schools’, which would make them ‘perfect partners’. Mr. Furness explained, “Small learning communities work really well, but in order to thrive the pupils need to experience a much greater social network. We wanted to open doors to other children and people around the world.”
At the heart of this project is a drive towards adopting fresh teaching styles and new applications of technology to engage children in their learning, according to Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP, Minister of Education. The Honourable Minister said, “We are amidst a paradigm shift in the way we educate students in the Cayman Islands. Educators are starting to embrace new methods of stimulating students and engaging them in their own learning. Technology opens up myriad possibilities in the classroom, and the Little Cayman Education Centre was a perfect place to demonstrate that.” He continued, “The work we see taking place there, will be inspirational for teachers and students across the islands.”
Using the latest in Apple Macintosh hardware and software, the four boys have created their own blog (http://littlecaymancommunity.blogspot.com/) to share their ideas with the world; published photographs taken with their new cameras; video-conferenced with Stepping Stones School; and have built a ‘buddy list’ of learners in other locations using Apple iChat. Recounting the experience on his own blog, Jonathan Furness’ explains how, “Arrowe on Little Cayman is talking to Dominic [in the UK] about the music he is making using GarageBand. Dominic is a bit of an expert when it comes to writing music, compared to Arrowe where this is his first time. Wouldn't it be ever so special for Dominic to pass on his wisdom and understanding to Arrowe? Well... that's exactly what happened.”
But it’s not just a ‘flash in the pan’ explains Ministry Strategic Development Advisor (Education), Gareth Long, who is keen to point out that such teaching and learning styles need to become more commonplace in Cayman’s schools. Mr. Long said, “We are urging teachers and even parents to play an active role in promoting new teaching styles in schools, and especially the use of technology in opening doors for children. It’s not simply a matter of giving children the tools to express themselves and their creativity, but also of institutionalizing new teaching styles to make sure good practice is sustained.” He continued, “It may be scary for those who are new to it, but this is where our children feel comfortable and ultimately that is what is important!”
Early on Monday 22nd October, the Little Cayman Education Centre will use its new technology to connect by live video feed to the ‘Be Very Afraid 4’ event in London, the UK’s national annual showcase for digital creativity among school students, organised by the world-famous British film academy, BAFTA. The Honourable Education Minister is also expected to ‘beam in’ to put Cayman firmly in the center of the international stage for its use of technology in learning.
See Little Cayman’s children at work on the Little Cayman ICT project on Cayman’s education innovation blog, http://buildingexcellencetogether.blogspot.com.
|Jonathan Furness, Jovian Thompson, Taron Scott, Waid Moore, Justin Whittaker, Ms. Kerry Scott - Teacher's Aide, Mrs. Veronica Juman - Khan - Teacher - in - charge|
|Children get to grips with the technology|