EXPONENTIAL TECHNOLOGIES IN THE CARIBBEAN LANDSCAPE
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Caribbean citizen, but if we don’t update our vocabulary and our curriculum we are going to be progressing to outdated systems only to have to catch up again once the bureaucracy gets us to that point.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 However, if we are to exist in the 21st century we have to shed those old outdated ideals.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.?”