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Crown Point, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Weather :: 31C Partly cloudy

partly cloudyPartly cloudy 31°C

Wind Speed:
24 KMH
Wind Direction:
ESE (110°)
1010 mb
Heat Index:
Wind Chill:
11 km
Forecast for Evening
Becoming partly cloudy.
Forecast for Overnight
Partly cloudy.
Crown Point, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO Weather :: 30C Partly cloudy

partly cloudyPartly cloudy 30°C

Wind Speed:
27 KMH
Wind Direction:
E (100°)
1012 mb
Heat Index:
Wind Chill:
11 km
Forecast for Morning
Becoming partly cloudy with winds from the east at 12 mph.
Forecast for Overnight
Partly cloudy with winds from the east at 12 mph.
Forecast for Evening
Partly cloudy with winds from the east at 12 mph.
Forecast for Afternoon
Partly cloudy with winds from the east at 12 mph.
Broadband: The missing link
Why schools need high-speed Internet access to thrive in the Digital Age
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Technology Matters

Education technology is often touted as a panacea for all that ails the education sector. Internet connected laptops, tablets, smartphones and smart-boards are supposed to be the magic tools that deliver universal access to the so-called information superhighway. Yet in practice, education technology has been more hype than reality. 

Plans for the connected classroom are missing an important ingredient: real, reliable broadband Internet access. Forget broadband “to the school;” it’s time for broadband to all students and teachers IN the schools.

While Internet service providers make marketing boasts of broadband-to-school initiatives and governments promote laptop and tablet in school programs and other digital learning initiatives, there remains a vital missing link. Too often, the onramp to the information superhighway is blocked by horrendously slow and unreliable Internet connections. 

In the real world of schools and university campuses, teachers report that education technology is often more a hindrance than a help in the class. 

Limited teacher technical skills; poor or no Internet connectivity; and inadequate or inappropriate tools and facilities add more overhead and teaching load to already overburdened, resource constrained and often technologically under-prepared learning environments. Efforts by students to take advantage of their connected devices for learning are also being frustrated. 

Students search for and herd around weak Wi-fi signals at school, in town centres and community halls like desert nomads in search of an oasis. Something is terribly wrong with this picture and it’s time to get it right.

Education and technology: A special relationship

Information and communications technologies and services have always played a significant role in education. Before the advent of today’s world of broadband Internet access, cloud-computing, apps and mobile devices other, academic researchers were among the first users of what became known as the Internet. 

As the Internet grew, so did the sophistication and diversity of the content and tools. Learning management systems, like Moodle and Blackboard, are now being widely deployed through the education sector. Massive education content repositories, like Khan Academy, now deliver information once housed only in physical textbooks and libraries. Online and social media platforms are also providing new ways for students to collaborate and educators to connect and share. 

Today the Internet has become an essential part of the education process. From pre- and primary school through the secondary and tertiary levels, students and teachers are using the Internet to do research, organise assignments and to prepare and present classwork. 

Physical textbooks are gradually being replaced by more interactive e-textbooks, spurred on by initiatives such as The Global Text Project and Project Guttenberg, a volunteer effort to digitise and archive cultural works. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets offer the promise of further transformations by personalising the learning experience and creating new opportunities to interact with content.

Without proper broadband and reliable connectivity in schools, the dream of the connected class quickly turns into a nightmare of frustration. Internet connection speeds at most schools is simply too slow to service the demands of 21st century education. Too many schools have a far more fundamental challenge, lacking the basic wired and wireless networks for students and teachers to access educational content.

Access for all

Schools should be given the best opportunity to make better use of technology and the Internet to promote more effective and widespread access to education. Given the significant impact of technology on learning, it is critical that all students and all teachers have proper Internet access. 

A top priority is to ensure that all schools have sufficient bandwidth to meet the needs of connected learners and connected educators. It is no longer sufficient to speak only in Internet connectivity terms of megabits to the schools. Connectivity plans and policies must consider and track connectivity speeds per school user. The reason is simple. When every student can be online at any time, from any location in school, the requirement for broadband Internet access is much greater. And the demand for broadband is only going to continue growing as teachers and users consume and create rich multimedia content. 

The shift to technology-enhanced learning is imperative, not optional. Schools that are serious about integrating technology in education must secure enough bandwidth to facilitate every student being online simultaneously. They must also invest in the necessary in-school support infrastructure to deliver that bandwidth over wired and wireless networks to user devices. 

Once upon a time, it was reasonable to focus on providing broadband connections to a few computers in a school computer lab. Not any more. With students and teachers increasingly likely to be using mobile personal devices rather than desktop computers as learning tools, access needs to be delivered to every device and in every classroom.

Enhancing the learning experience

The availability of proper broadband in schools, supported by appropriate networking and technical infrastructure, promises a powerful new platform for learning. High-speed Internet access in schools will not only enhance the learning experience, it will also better enable students to acquire the skills that they need to flourish in the digital era. 

If we truly want to prepare our children to their place in this hyper-connected world, we have to provide them with access in schools to the same technology that surrounds them in the rest of their lives. The technology exists and the bandwidth needed to support is available. Now we need to ensure that the investment, strategies, policies and leadership needed for all our educators and students to have proper broadband access, is also in place to make the dream of connected learning a reality.

Bevil Wooding is the an Internet strategist with US-based research firm Packet Clearing House and the founder and executive director of BrightPath Foundation, an technology education non-profit organisation. Reach him on Twitter @bevilwooding or on facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via e-mail at technologymatters@brightpathfoundation.org

Ten tips for doing business the Virgin way
Thursday, October 30, 2014

I’m often asked how I got to where I am, and how the Virgin brand achieved all that it has. While there are no shortcuts to success, certain attitudes and actions can help. Here are my top ten tips for doing business the Virgin way:

1. Follow your dreams.

You will live a much better life if you pursue your passions. People who work on the things that they love usually enjoy life more than everyone else does simply because they are chasing their dreams.

2. Do some good.

If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business - it’s that simple. Companies have a responsibility to make a difference in the world: They owe this to their community, their staff, their customers, everyone. The amazing part is that doing good is also good for business - what are you waiting for?

3. Believe in your ideas: Give your venture everything you’ve got.

A passionate commitment to your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure. If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be? And don’t get suckered into blindly pursuing profits and growth. If you stay focused on being the best at what you do, it’s more likely that the rest will follow.

4. Have fun, and make sure that your team members are enjoying themselves too.

Fun is one of the most important—and underrated—components of any successful venture. If you’re not enjoying yourself, it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else. If your employees are engaged and having fun, and they genuinely care about your customers, they will enjoy their work more and do a better job. Hire people who look for the best in others, who lavish more praise than they dole out criticism, and who genuinely love what they do.

5. Don’t give up.

On every adventure that I have undertaken—whether it was setting up a business, flying around the world in a balloon or racing across an ocean in a powerboat—I have faced difficult moments when the easiest thing to do would have been to throw in the towel and walk away. But you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by tenaciously sticking to your goals. When you fail, get back up, brush yourself off and try again.

6. Listen, take lots of notes and keep setting yourself new challenges.

If you don’t write down your own (and others’) spontaneous ideas, they can vanish in the blink of an eye. So be sure to keep track of your goals: make lists. And remember to listen more and talk less. You’ll be amazed at the obstacles a listening culture can overcome.

7. Delegate, and spend more time with your family.

The art of delegation is one of the key skills that entrepreneurs must master. Be sure to “hire to your weaknesses.” Bringing on people who can do the tasks you aren’t particularly good at can free you up to plan for your company’s future. This strategy also allows you to spend more time with your family, which is really the most important thing of all.

Oh yes, and don’t forget to as your family for input on your latest big idea; like I should have done before we launched Mates condoms, for instance!

8. Communicate, collaborate and communicate some more.

Keep it simple, stupid . and above all else, work and play with others. Mushrooms might grow when they are kept in the dark and fed a diet of dung, but that strategy doesn’t work with people. The Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and companies like Pixar built open work environments that invited intermingling and the sharing of visions; you need that atmosphere too.

9. Turn off your laptop and iPhone, and get out there.

Don’t sit in front of a screen all day. Switch everything off and venture out into the world regularly. If you’ve been neglecting this part of life, start with your own backyard, then expand your field of vision. With so many fascinating people to meet, exciting adventures to embark upon and rewarding challenges to undertake, there’s no time to lose. As the saying goes: Life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

10. Do what you love, and keep a couch in the kitchen.

As long as you are surrounded by the people you love and you’re doing what you love, it really doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you make. When we are on Necker Island, my family tends to spend most of our time in the kitchen together. If you have a roof over your head and a partner you love, you really don’t need too much more.

Now, I really must get back to my hammock so I can do some business’ around here that’s known as the Virgin Islands way!

(This column was adapted from Richard Branson’s forthcoming book, The Virgin Way. For more information, go to virgin.com/richardbranson/books.)

(Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains a blog at www.virgin.com/richard-branson/blog. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/richardbranson. To learn more about the Virgin Group: www.virgin.com.)

(Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Please send them to RichardBranson@nytimes.com. Please include your name, country, e-mail address and the name of the Web site or publication where you read the column.)

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