blink | bmobile creates history with launch of 1st virtual classroom in Trinidad and Tobago

A New Learning Experience is Launched

“blink | bmobile is proud to play a major part of this evolution in our education system”. These were the words of George Hill, CEO (Ag), Telecommunications Services Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) as he formally launched the blink | bmobile - Samsung Virtual Classroom during the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Virtual Educa Caribbean Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad from May 19th to 20th 2014.

Hill went on to say, “The global economy and our country are constantly changing and evolving and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is at the heart of this change. We cannot therefore continue to use the same education models as before to equip our next generation of leaders. When the Government and the private sector come together, the results are always phenomenal. We are creating history here today as you witness live, the 1st virtual classroom implemented in Trinidad and Tobago and being broadcast to the rest of the world. “

The virtual classroom showcased the new educational model that will be implemented in (20) primary and secondary schools throughout Trinidad and Tobago as part of a 3-month pilot project of the Ministry of Education. Research has shown that using ICT in the classroom improves the performance of children at school by facilitating live, creative, interactive, and time-saving educational techniques. It is expected that at the end of the pilot, ICT and virtual classrooms will be incorporated into teaching and the existing school curriculum nationwide.

The pilot-project virtual classroom uses the most modern technology from blink | bmobile and Samsung and will provide training for both the teachers and students on use of the equipment and the virtual classroom applications. This includes the latest Galaxy 10.1 tablet, Samsung Note, stylus pens, virtual 3D interactive whiteboards, 3D high definition IP cameras, videoconferencing equipment, fibre optic and Wi-Fi connections. The virtual classroom connects teacher and student so each can follow what the other is doing in real-time. The teacher can simultaneously forward a class exercise to each student, monitor their progress, instantly correct, tabulate and return the results to each student using several formats including pie charts and bar graphs.

The Honourable Vernella Alleyne-Toppin, Minister in the Ministry of the People and Social Development, His Excellency Ambassador Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary General, Organization of American States, and Dr Jose Maria Anton, Secretary General, Virtual Educa were among the many dignitaries who attended the opening of the virtual classroom exhibition and participated in a demonstration of how it works by Dr the Honourable Tim Gopeesingh, Minister of Education. The Honourable Minister and his guests witnessed firsthand how a virtual classroom improves the learning experience for both teachers and students during a live transmission using BLINK Videoconferencing of a classroom quiz by a teacher and her students at Presentation College, Chaguanas.

Thanking blink | bmobile and Samsung for embracing the government’s vision for education, the Honourable Minister noted, “If we do not incorporate ICT in education we will be left behind. The time has come for us as educators to recognize that we need technology in every classroom, and in every student and teacher’s hands, because it is the pen and paper of our time. This is where the world is moving. If we cannot and don’t do this, then we will fail to make our schools relevant to the current and future needs of the digital generation.”

His Excellency Ambassador Albert Ramdin agreed. He shared, “Today, as we talk about virtual education, your state, the local and international private sectors are already working together to roll out virtual classrooms in some schools in this country, whereas ICT in education is still a dream for many in this hemisphere. It is our duty to produce a generation of students who can compete with counterparts from other parts of the world.” Dr Anton added, “Laptops and infrastructure are a must but without a holistic approach to education, with the teachers using tools with worldwide, best-practice quality content on the computers, sustainable development won’t be possible.”

blink | bmobile and Samsung were platinum sponsors of the 2nd Virtual Educa Caribbean Conference which was the largest and most significant hemispheric conference on primary and secondary education in the Americas and the first of its kind for Trinidad and Tobago. There was heavy emphasis on the use of ICT as teachers, principals and students throughout Trinidad and Tobago attended virtual workshops and plenary sessions using satellite, microwave or fibre optic transmission. This included a live demo during the opening ceremony of a virtual field trip and a Talon Robot similar to the one used in the Hurt Locker movie.

The conference was attended by several Government Ministers, (14) Ministers of Education from CARICOM and Latin America, Ambassadors and other members of the Diplomatic Corps, OAS, TTUTA and NPTATT representatives, other education stakeholders and members of the public sector, business community and civil society.

These students cannot hide their excitement