The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Jennifer Evans

Hard digital realities: Teaching with technology in the Pacific Islands

Jennifer Evans
Distance and Flexible Learning Support Centre, University of the South Pacific

Valentine Hazelman

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     Last modified: October 18, 2006
     Presentation date: 10/31/2006 2:15 PM in ST Windsor B
     (View Schedule)

In the South Pacific, where small island populations are scattered over vast areas of the world’s largest ocean, communications of all kinds remain problematic even in the 21st century. The University of the South Pacific operates and owns its own satellite network, USPNet, which attempts to provide Internet, phone and data links, video and audio conferencing, and video broadcasting to students and staff in its 12 member countries. Even with this capacity, teaching with technology is no easy fix to the many challenges of delivering quality distance education in such a context.

This paper focuses on the particular challenge of teaching Computer Science at a distance. Teaching technology with technology appears to be an obvious answer to dealing with a rapidly changing subject area requiring hands-on student experience. When the Internet became available in USP’s many small campuses its interactive potential looked set to solve many previous difficulties. The hard reality is that getting the technology to work effectively is only one part of the puzzle, and that many other factors, including pedagogy, communication, management, and administration, need to be addressed and coordinated to achieve success.

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