Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 23rd 2014 Contents A33
Monday, June 23, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The team from Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center in Choctaw,
Oklahoma, races through the Get Your Motor Running 65th Annual National
Student Auto Skills Competition at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn,
Michigan on June 10. AP PHOTO
START YOUR ENGINES!
-No spraying vehicle at
insect vector unit
Within the lead article in the T&T
Guardian of June 16 regarding the US
issuing virus travel alerts, it is stated
"the reason T&T hasn't the virus is that
a lot of work is being done by agencies
including the Insect Vector Unit to try
and control the spread".
What pray have they been doing?
Whatever it is has not been in this area.
What about dengue? Will this still not
be a problem in the rainy season?
After having tried unsuccessfully to
contact the Insect Vector Unit some
months ago, in desperation I called the
Ministry of Health and a very helpful
Customer Liaison Officer investigated
my complaint, only to discover that the
Vector Unit had moved.
I was given the new number and fur-
ther complained that our area Moka,
Maraval was last sprayed on or around
the July 2, 2013.
I was informed that the reason for
this was that the vehicle was, and still
is, out of action. Meanwhile, other areas
are being sprayed regularly.
Over the last few weeks the mos-
quito infestation has become very seri-
ous. Whilst households can take
precautions, it is surely the responsibil-
ity of the Health Ministry to ensure that
regular spraying is carried out for citi-
zens. I would suggest that the Health
Minister find the funds from some-
where to purchase a new vehicle so
that our area can receive the regular
spraying that is necessary during the
I sincerely offer my heartfelt thanks
to those police officers who so ably as-
sisted my daughter and her husband,
Shani and Shane Forrester, when their
car shut down on the Saddle Road,
Santa Cruz last Sunday night.
I am told that they physically pushed
the vehicle into an area of safety where
my children could wait for the wrecking
service to come to their aid.
I commend these men who truly ex-
emplified what it means "to protect and
I regret that, in their distress, the cou-
ple neglected to ask for your names, but
our family thanks you. We want you to
know that we are indeed grateful!
God bless you.
Joy A Valdez,
MOOCs are Massive Open
Online Courses. They typi-
cally last for seven weeks and
are offered by well-funded
American entities like Coursera,
Udacity and edx.
Coursera works with universi-
ties to make their courses avail-
able online, Georgia Tech is
involved with Udacity and MIT,
Harvard and the University of
California at Berkeley with edx.
The proffered intent is to
make courses from prestigious
universities available to students
worldwide. There is also quite a
significant array of offerings for
secondary school students.
MOOCs are being hyped as the
next big wave in education.
A "mook" is Trinidadian
slang for a shy and or socially
One critical outcome of tradi-
tional schooling, at all levels, is
the development of social skills
through interacting with fellow
students and teachers. The
MOOC approach to education
is one to one: student and
computer screen ("computer
screen" here is used in a gener-
ic sense to include tablets and
smart phones). What impact
will this have on students?
Already the experience is that
Facebook, WhatsApp and the
Internet are producing disrup-
tive behaviours in both the
classrooms and in social situa-
Whilst addiction to social-
media usage causes disruptions
in every sphere of human
activity, it does the greatest
harm in the arena of social
interactions. It is common
experience to see, during din-
ners and events etc, many peo-
ple glued to their smart phones
texting, rather than talking to
those right in front of them.
This is cause for worry as the
work and social environment
still require the ability to inter-
face on a person-to-person
basis for success.
There is growing concern
that social media technology
may be making students more
As a country, we need to
carefully examine the role of
on-line teaching, through
MOOCs, particularly in the
secondary school system. There
is no consensus that computers
have improved the quality of
They have certainly made
courses and knowledge previ-
ously inaccessible or difficult to
access available to a wide range
of people worldwide. This is a
But just as libraries provide
support for learning, so too
does the Web. In fact Google
may be viewed as providing
people with their own personal
library. Teachers complain that
students have very short atten-
tion spans. Lecturers at the
university are of the same view.
MOOCs may serve to reinforce
this situation. Most MOOCs
comprise ten-12 minute videos.
It is thus old teaching methods
using a new technology plat-
Some studies have indicated
that students generally stop
viewing the videos after four to
five minutes and would not
look at them for longer than
cyberspace surfing or lurking
behaviour. More alarming,
though, is the completion rate.
It is less than ten per cent.
Further, there are many,
including employers and the
general population, who have
concerns about the quality of
It is acknowledged, however,
that online education can be
useful, particularly at the post-
graduate levels, more so at the
master s, where very specialised
subject-matter expertise is
being acquired, and for directed
training, where the foundations
and base knowledge exist.
It should not and cannot
replace traditional education in
the secondary school system
and undergraduate degrees and
diplomas at tertiary level insti-
tutions. Here, growth as a nor-
mal sociable person is as
important a part of the educa-
tion as the acquisition of
This can only be reinforced if
the traditional approaches are
strengthened, thereby making
learning an interesting and rel-
evant exercise. The unthinking
and indiscriminate introduction
of MOOCs will do more harm
We do not need any increase
in "mooksie" behaviour.
WILL MOOCS MAKE
SCIENCE AND SOCIETY
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