EX­PO­NEN­TIAL TECH­NOLO­GIES IN THE CARIBBEAN LAND­SCAPE

The Star (St. Lucia) - Business Week - - THE FT VIEW - BY CAMILLE SELVON ABRA­HAMS, PRO­GRAMME LEADER AN­I­MA­TION STUD­IES, UNIVER­SITY OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, CON­SUL­TANT IN DIG­I­TAL AND TRANS-ME­DIA, CRE­ATIVE DI­REC­TOR ANIMAE CARIBE AN­I­MA­TION FES­TI­VAL

Nano tech­nol­ogy, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, aug­mented re­al­ity, block chain tech­nol­ogy, robotics and 3D print­ing are all ‘rel­a­tively’ new con­cepts, and all cer­tainly on the ed­u­ca­tional agenda in global learn­ing spa­ces. Un­for­tu­nately, not so in the Caribbean. Though still rel­e­vant we con­tinue to have in our vo­cab­u­lary out­moded ter­mi­nolo­gies like dig­i­tal me­dia, IT, dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy. These new tech­nolo­gies are not even on the tongues of the ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers. We are still de­bat­ing if the Queens English and pen­man­ship should be high on the agenda in the Caribbean class­room. Holis­ti­cally all of this makes for a well-rounded Caribbean cit­i­zen, but if we don’t up­date our vo­cab­u­lary and our cur­ricu­lum we are go­ing to be pro­gress­ing to out­dated sys­tems only to have to catch up again once the bu­reau­cracy gets us to that point. Ex­po­nen­tial tech­nolo­gies are those which are shap­ing our in­dus­tries in a rapid ac­cel­er­ated man­ner which, in turn, are cre­at­ing ma­jor im­pact in our lives. Not only is this al­low­ing rapid so­lu­tions to mod­ern day chal­lenges, it is also cre­at­ing so­lu­tions that are be­com­ing cheaper and more ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic.

LET’S FAIL TO­DAY

This shift can only hap­pen if we cre­ate the learn­ing spa­ces for stu­dents to ex­per­i­ment, in­no­vate, test, pitch, make mis­takes, fix the mis­takes and take risks. These must also be ar­tic­u­lated in an en­vi­ron­ment that en­cour­ages risk, with­out ad­mon­ish­ment for mak­ing the mis­take. In other words, stu­dents should not get an ‘F’ for fail­ing.

BREAK DOWN THESE WOODEN WALLS

These learn­ing space must also be uniquely out­fit­ted for such ex­per­i­men­ta­tion to take place. This means se­ri­ous, hard cash in­vest­ment in ed­u­ca­tion which brings moder­nity to the class­room. There is a ro­man­ti­cized ideal of Caribbean spa­ces which em­braces post colo­nial­ism in ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign. These un­for­tu­nately do not fit well with mod­ern tools and spa­ces. So, work­ing around that cul­tural shift may mean step­ping out of our sense of self. How­ever, if we are to ex­ist in the 21st cen­tury we have to shed those old out­dated ideals. This in­vest­ment must be seen as a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of our fu­ture and not just cos­metic.

EVEN HOW WE SIT

For too long we have worked with the lay­out of the old tra­di­tional class­rooms. Teacher’s desk, stu­dents seated theatre-style, white­board, with the oc­ca­sional pro­jec­tor. Teacher in front of the class lec­tur­ing to stu­dents. We need to break that up as the dy­nam­ics of the teach­er­stu­dent re­la­tion­ship are chang­ing. Manag­ing that ex­change is crit­i­cal. A some­what awk­ward re­al­i­sa­tion but, if man­aged and ap­proached in a prag­matic way, it can make the learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial and ef­fec­tive in the class­room.

THE EX­PO­NEN­TIAL CHAL­LENGE

So how do we catch up with these ex­po­nen­tial tech­nolo­gies out here in the Caribbean? I sug­gest that firstly we start the con­ver­sa­tion in the class­room. Add these new ter­mi­nolo­gies to the vo­cab­u­lary. Even though we may not be able to delve into the tech­nol­ogy im­me­di­ately, by mak­ing stu­dents aware of the magic of the fu­ture this may chal­lenge their think­ing and en­cour­age in­no­va­tion. We are proudly guided by an as­tutely se­lected in­ter­na­tional ad­vi­sory board from all sec­tors of the global in­dus­try. Our UTT BFA in Dig­i­tal Me­dia Art is for­tu­nate to have the sup­port of the Univer­sity and a staff pre­pared to take the leap. Lo­cated in a state-of-the-art cam­pus and work­ing hand in hand with in­dus­try, this is all the in­gre­di­ents needed to chal­lenge tra­di­tional method­olo­gies. Lastly, if we are to go by the un­der­stand­ing of ex­po­nen­tial tech­nol­ogy then that in it­self can al­low us to take the risk and in­no­vate more in or­der to get in align­ment with our in­ter­na­tional coun­ter­parts. This is a game changer.

The Bach­e­lor of Fine Art De­gree in Dig­i­tal Me­dia Arts is start­ing at the Univer­sity of Trinidad and Tobago. One in a se­ries of ar­ti­cles fo­cused on emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies to be pub­lished by the Tech Beach Re­treat Com­mu­nity, ahead of its next sum­mit, Nov 29-Dec 1 in Mon­tego Bay, Ja­maica.

Pi­lar Man­chon, Di­rec­tor of Cog­ni­tive In­ter­faces at Ama­zon, de­liv­er­ing her key­note speech in 2018: “Mak­ing new tech­nol­ogy in­ter­faces more hu­man—how far can we go with con­sumer ap­pli­ca­tions of A.I.?”

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