“Leveraging Appropriate Technologies in ODL for Young People to Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities”: The National Open School of Trinidad and Tobago (NOSTT) Experience

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

PCF5 Sub-theme: Cross-cutting Themes // A dilemma exists for those of us who understand the impact that technology can have on the access and exposure to educational opportunities and the individual needs and experience of our clients in ODL. On the one hand is the suggested use of high-end or new technologies –ipods, lap-tops, DVD players, learning management systems, digital cameras, multi-media projectors, computer labs etc. Such technologies are difficult to obtain by our ‘post-school’ population, ‘at-risk’ groups in society, the socially displaced and the physically challenged. On the other hand is the use of wide-spread low-cost, lowend technologies such as the radio, television tape recorders and overhead projectors which can provide exciting and rewarding educational experiences to learners who need to learn, and who, because of their unique circumstances; (poor, live in rural communities, without basic amenities etc.) cannot wait on the high technologies. They need to get the education they require now. // In addition, the cost and sustainability of high-end technologies for ODL are very high when compared to traditional technologies such as radio and television. The cost of Internet connectivity continue to be challenge (especially rural areas) or environments in Trinidad and Tobago where there is no electricity or an irregular supply; where there is problematic or no telephone service and hence no internet connectivity-wired or wireless; where there exist no proper community or school buildings; where, even if hardware is supplied, there are significant problems for maintenance of such systems and where the social and community structures(education not seen as a priority) which exist in such areas impact negatively on both traditional and ODL intervention strategies used in the provision of education . // An attempt to bridge the gap which exist between the need for technology intervention in education and the existing or available technologies in rural areas- the radio, the tape recorder and the television. The National Open School of Trinidad and Tobago (NOSTT) has, over the past nine months provide an open and distance approach to education which offers maximum flexibility to ‘post-school’ learners in the first instance. This blended approach in ODL delivery involves the use of text books, lesson summaries and face-toface delivery together with self-study material. Low-end technologies- the cell phone, the MP3 together with the available technologies- the radio and television are also been 2 to used for expanded access and educational opportunities for young people living in rural areas, especially boys. // Paper ID 717

Trinidad and Tobago
Caribbean and Americas