BrightPath Foundation brings TechLink to T&T

BrightPath founder and executive director Bevil Wooding. Photo courtesy: BrightPath Foundation Secondary school teachers and students will be immersed in a day of technology gadgets, spacemen and science experiments when the BrightPath TechLink program comes to T&T on September 27. “TechLink combines hands-on technology training with fun-filled creative activity, wrapped into a values-based learning experience that we believe can benefit participant for life,” BrightPath Foundation executive director Bevil Wooding told T&T Guardian. In the all-day event, students will use tablets, micro-computers, drones and robots to conduct special experiments that reinforce basic principles of science, technology, engineering and math. Since TechLink’s launch in Grenada in November 2013, over 400 persons, including educators, small business entrepreneurs, young people and parents in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Saint Lucia, have taken part in the initiative. But for the T&T edition, there is a twist. Capitalising on the interest in space experiments following NorthGate College’s success in the 2014 Cubes In Space experiment design global contest, TechLink Trinidad will focus on a suite of technology-based science experiments, under the theme “exploration: learning, developing, innovating.” “Together with our collaborative partner iDoodleSoftware, we will be hosting NASA astronaut Dr Roger Crouch in Trinidad for the TechLink event,” Wooding said. “The goal is to produce a context in which education is more engaging and interactive. Participants  will be get to be young explorers for the day. They will split into groups to tackle real-world problems and use technology and science to come up with solutions,” he said. Corporate sponsors include regional broadband-provider Columbus Communications and the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago. Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus, said the partnership with BrightPath is part of Columbus’ wider commitment to investing in the communities it serves. “As more affordable high-speed Internet access becomes a reality across the region, Columbus is actively looking for opportunities to help users at every level understand how to make the most of it.” TechLink Trinidad will include an Educators Forum, designed to equip secondary school teachers with know-how and practical tools to use technology in the classroom. “While the students enjoy the chance to go deep into digital content creation, teachers will learn new and better ways to use technology in the nation’s classroom. This is technology meeting the real world. The goal here is to give a real sense of the possibility of technology being applied to Caribbean education," Wooding said. TechLink Trinidad will be held at the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies on September 27.

Bright path to digital careers at TechLink Barbados

BrightPath facilitator Juma Bannister, left, leads eager young participants in a hands-on Digital Photography session at BrightPath's TechLink Barbados workshop, Cave Hill School of Business, June 21. Photo courtesy The BrightPath Foundation.

More than thirty young Barbadians learned basic skills for developing successful mobile apps and producing high-quality digital photography at a special workshop facilitated by the BrightPath Foundation, in collaboration with Columbus Communications.

A mix of small business owners and entrepreneurs assembled at the Cave Hill School of Business for BrightPath's TechLink, a regional technology education program offering training in digital content creation and business development.

Bevil Wooding, executive director of BrightPath Foundation, described TechLink as "practical training in technology related skills to communities across the region.”

“Making the shift from digital consumers to digital producers is important for creating the jobs and businesses of the future. How successfully we build the digital Caribbean of tomorrow depends on how well we build our technical capacity today,” Wooding said.

Facilitators Stephen Lee, Mark Headley and Juma Bannister led the sessions of the one-day workshop.

"What makes TechLink unique is that it really gets participants to see the impact they can have as content creators in whatever medium they choose," Lee said.

Lee, CEO of ArkiTechs Inc, an IT services company, is a Jamaica-born BrightPath volunteer. He led participants through the fundamentals of mobile app development.

His eager young students were visibly and audibly enthused by the opportunity to get hands-on training.

In a nearby room, a group of photography enthusiasts were schooled by another expert volunteer facilitator.  Juma Bannister, a Trinidad-based professional photographer and head of Relate Studios, covered the basics of digital photography and followed up by overseeing an afternoon of practical exercises around the scenic campus venue.

"Photography has always been a wonderful way to tell stories in pictures. Now, with the internet, we can also easily share those picture stories of our region with the world,” Bannister said.

“Initiatives like BrightPath’s TechLink benefit individuals and communities by enabling us to solve our own problems and create our own opportunities. It creates independence, inspiring us to take risks, and encourages global involvement,” said Shelly Ann Hee Chung, Columbus Communications vice president of sales and marketing for the Eastern Caribbean.

Commenting on the collaboration with BrightPath Lee said, “Columbus and BrightPath Foundation are equally committed to developing technology capacity in the Caribbean. Columbus’ support for BrightPath’s pioneering TechLink initiative brings this dream to life.”

The TechLink initiative, launched in Grenada last November, is being rolled out across the Caribbean. The Barbados workshops were held on June 21st. TechLink’s next stop is scheduled to take place on July 12 in St. Lucia.

For more information, visit www.brightpathfoundation.org.

Creating Caribbean content: BrightPath, Columbus hold mobile app workshop in Grenada

A new initiative from BrightPath Foundation is taking a radical approach to Caribbean digital content creation. Called TechLink, the new project is already being described as a revolution in community-driven technology-driven education for the region.

On February 1, BrightPath Foundation, in collaboration with its corporate partner Columbus Communications, brought TechLink’s second mobile app development workshop to St George’s, Grenada.

Stephen Lee, technology trainer for the TechLink progam, said what the 20 college-age participants lacked in experience they made up for in enthusiasm.

“Most of the participants, I would say 75 per cent, had little or no prior app development experience. But many were actively pursuing an interest in mobile apps and saw the TechLink workshop as an opportunity to learn more and develop expertise,” he said.

The workshop syllabus included sessions covering the overall app development process, from idea to publishing, and a live walkthrough of Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone development environments. Lee also presented an overview of game development frameworks and did a walkthrough of online app builders: Appery.io and MIT App Inventor 2.

Participants of all levels were directed to online training resources and encouraged to keep developing skills and innovating. Kensuki Morris, a St. George’s University Student who attended, said, “This initiative is awesome. It encourages young people to empower themselves by taking advantage of what is available through broadband and skills. I will definitely attend future sessions.”

This programme focused specifically on youth from local communities. Fifteen participants were return attendees, who were joined by six new participants. They were exposed to a vast amount of information on the development, design, coding and production of mobile applications.

“The workshop is specifically designed to ensure that all participants, regardless of their entry-level, get a solid introduction to mobile app development and leave with a robust set of resources to start their mobile app development journey,” said Bevil Wooding, Founder of BrightPath Foundation.

At the regional launch of TechLink in Grenada on November 30, 2013, more than 100 young people and small business entrepreneurs participated in a full day of workshops. Many walked away energised with new ideas and ways that technology could be used to develop their communities, businesses as well as their career plans.

Gail Purcell, country manager for Columbus Communications Grenada, said, “Since its debut in Grenada, TechLink continues to attract audiences from all sectors--young people, parents, educators, and small and micro-business owners. At Columbus, we are proud to know that our company is associated with such a program that maintains our corporate social responsibility to all our customers, while truly affording our staff who support, and the participants who attend, such a rewarding experience."

Grenada is just the beginning. BrightPath is already partnering with on-the-ground community leaders in St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Montserrat, Wooding said.

“The goal is to see TechLink run in countries across the region from Belize to Suriname, targeting youth, parents, seniors, educators and small business owners,” he said.

Starting the Caribbean technology revolution: BrightPath and Columbus kick off TechLink in Grenada

The Caribbean technology revolution has begun.

BrightPath, in collaboration with its corporate partner Columbus Communications, has launched TechLink, an initiative offering Caribbean-wide community-based training in digital content creation. One hundred-plus young persons and small business entrepreneurs participated in a full day of workshops at the regional launch in St George’s, Grenada on November 30.

“Our vision is to take the seed planted in Grenada and translate it into Caribbean apps, Caribbean books, Caribbean photos, Caribbean videos, and Caribbean solutions to Caribbean challenges,” said Bevil Wooding, Founder and Executive Director of BrightPath.

He told the Guardian that TechLink will run in countries across the region from Belize to Suriname, targeting youth, parents, seniors, educators and small business owners.

“The launch of TechLink in Grenada is the beginning of a revolution in community-based technology-driven education for the region. We’re partnering with on-the ground community leaders in St Lucia, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Montserrat,” explained BrightPath Executive Director Bevil Wooding during the launch.

The old cliché is that technology, by itself, solves nothing. But TechLink aims to demonstrate how, when coupled with effective leadership and directed at real human needs, technology can change the fortunes of a whole region.

“TechLink is about linking real people to real opportunity by exposing the practical application of broadband in terms that people can relate to in real life: creating and sharing content, tapping into essential information and services or even expanding markets for online businesses,” Wooding said.

In that sense, the programme has less to do with technology and more to do with the value of the Caribbean content, said Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus.

“History has shown us that delivering fantastic speeds at affordable prices doesn’t necessarily translate in people’s minds to any real value until they make the connection on how that ultimately makes their lives better. That’s the hope of TechLink.”

Columbus subsidiary Flow Grenada recently upgraded their residential broadband packages and now boasts speeds up to 100 Mbps.

“We’re going beyond just providing the pipe, we’re helping people discover what they can do with it,” said Yaw Ching.

“We are a creative people, and the opportunity is ripe for that creativity to be more fully expressed in our digital space,” Wooding said.

TechLink opens a path for Caribbean digital development

Grenada will be the first Caribbean country to benefit from a technology training initiative designed to train communities to take advantage of Internet, mobile and computer technologies.

TechLink, an initiative of BrightPath Foundation, is staged in partnership with Columbus Communications. The programme is designed encourage participants to apply their knowledge to innovatively address local needs.

Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus, said the company “sees its support of TechLink as an important statement of how serious and committed we are to positively impacting the communities in which we do business".

The programme comprises a series of hands-on workshops and training seminars that specifically target young people, women, entrepreneurs and small business owners. Over the next several months, the programme will expand across the region with initiatives targeting parents, seniors, and even young children.

"At the end of the day, it is imperative that we all work together to ensure that the Caribbean stays ahead of the curve with regard to adapting technology for our benefit and the growth of the region," said Bevil Wooding, Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation.

"We are grateful to have the support of Columbus for this exciting initiative. I am confident that together, we can foster the development of more digital content and Caribbean innovation.”

The programme will kick off in St Georges at the Grenada Boys Secondary School on November 9th with a formal launch scheduled for November 23rd. Gregory Bowen, Minister of Communications, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities & ICT, has been invited to deliver the feature address at the opening.

Through the Columbus and BrightPath partnership, the TechLink initiative will be rolled out throughout the Caribbean to encourage young people, parents, educators, small business owners, and other groups interested in technology-enabled innovation to deepen their skills, develop more local digital content and exploit new opportunities.

Anyone interested in attending the Grenada TechLink workshops may register online here or by email to techlink@columbus.co, or by calling (800-FLOW).