At the official launch of the Cook Islands Tertiary Training Institute (CITTI) on Wednesday, Jim Matheson said improved internet access through O3b – which aims to provide high-speed internet via low-orbiting satellites – will open up a whole new world of learning.
“If as promised it delivers cable-like internet, that makes the world open up to us. It opens up a learning resource where the scale of it is just enormous,” he said.
“The internet allows training opportunities that the previous generation didn’t have access to.”
O3b, which Telecom Cook Islands signed up to in June 2010, aims to provide internet to the “other three billion” people worldwide who can’t connect to fibre optic cable. The new system will improve internet speed by linking to satellites that are only 8 000km above the earth – a quarter of the distance of Telecom’s current satellites. The shorter distance means the satellite signal can reach the earth more quickly. The high-speed system is due to kick in in September.
Matheson said work on an ‘e-portal’ of learning resources has begun, and access to new technology such as notebook computers will assist learning.
“Notebooks are a learning resource – they’re like a walking library that students can carry around with them. It’s not separate from (the learning process), it’s integrated into their learning.”
Matheson said part of the strategy of CITTI is to take what is working well and add to it.
“In education, we’re required to do the same things well, consistently over time. We’re not stopping (what has been done in the past). We’re saying, let’s build on that and do it better.”
The CITTI will deliver face to face, on-line and employer-based programmes of learning and make these accessible to learners throughout the country.
Funding for the institute will come from the Cook Islands government and the NZ Aid programme.