Cook Islands

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Policies Survey notes:

The respondent to Policies Survey from the Cook Islands noted in respect to the Cook Islands' reasons for involvement in the OER movement that "We believe that there are obvious benefits in our efforts to provide life-long learning opportunities for all which aligns with our strategic plan. It also offers the opportunity to provide access to educational opportunities, particularly for those in more isolated communities."

Overview

The Cook Islands (Cook Islands Māori: Kūki 'Āirani) are a self-governing parliamentary democracy in free association with New Zealand, in the South Pacific Ocean. It comprises 15 small islands with a total land area of 240 square kilometres (92.7 sq mi). The Cook Islands Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 1.8 million square kilometres (0.7 million sq mi) of ocean. The population of the Cook Islands is nearly 20,000. The capital (and largest city) is Avarua. The main population centres are on the island of Rarotonga (around 14,000), where there is an international airport. Defence is the responsibility of New Zealand, in consultation with the Cook Islands and at its request. In recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. With over 90,000 visitors travelling to the islands in 2006, tourism is the country's number one industry, and the leading element of the economy, far ahead of offshore banking, pearls, marine and fruit exports. There is also a much larger population of Cook Islanders in New Zealand, particularly the North Island. In the 2006 census, around 58,000 self-identified as being of ethnic Cook Island Māori descent. The Cook Islands is not a United Nations full member but participates in WHO and UNESCO, and is an associate member of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP). The languages of the Cook Islands include English, Cook Islands Māori (Rarotongan) and Pukapukan. Cook Islands Māori and its dialectic variants are closely related to both Tahitian and to New Zealand Māori. Pukapukan, by contrast, is considered closely related to the Samoan language. Both English and Cook Islands Māori are considered official languages of the Cook Islands.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:Cook Islands.

Education in Cook Islands

For a general description of education in Cook Islands see Education:Cook Islands.


e-learning

For a description more focussed to e-learning see E-learning:Cook Islands.


Although the Cook Islands are part of the OLPS initiative, the progress of the project in the country has been uneven. In 2008, 70 XO laptops were sent by the Pacific Islands Secretariat in New Caledonia to the Cook Islands for distribution to Mitiaro school students as part of a pilot project. The distribution was put on hold pending a cost-benefit analysis. In mid-2009, the Ministry of Education was asked to return the machines. At the end of the same year, the laptops were finally distributed to students at Mitiaro High School. During 2010, the laptops were used by students in a range of learning activities. The initial pilot project seems to have been a success, although subsequent events are unknown. (3)

The EduNet project was launched in 2003. Funded by the European Union, the aim of the project was to connect Cook Islands schools through a wide-area Intranet. The new Intranet would run on a server managed by the Ministry of Education, and provide schools with access to curriculum-related materials. The project was designed to assist schools to overcome the constraints imposed by the limited telecommunications infrastructure in the Cooks Islands at the time. Although EduNet was conceived with a great deal of enthusiasm, the results have been disappointing. The management of the program was in the hands of technical experts from the Ministry, rather than educators with an interest in e-learning. The result was that EduNet quickly became focused on more mundane (but still worthy) goals, such as improving the efficiency and effectiveness in school administration and communication. EduNet became an ICT project rather than a visionary attempt to provide e-learning in the Cooks Islands. In retrospect, this development is not altogether surprising. Effective e-learning requires very significant investments of time by trained personnel and specialised technical resources. These resources were simply not available in the Cook Island at the time. (3)

Quality procedures

Internet in Cook Islands

Internet hosts (2010) - 2,521

Internet users (2008) - 5,000 (3)

Telecom Cook Islands has secured a large chunk of bandwidth from O3b Networks to provide Cook Islands businesses, 15,000 residents and more than 100,000 annual tourists with speedy web access. O3b Networks is set to initiate its satellite-delivered service to the Cook Islands in mid-2013, following the launch of O3b’s initial global constellation of eight Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites. “O3b’s affordable, high-speed capacity will open the door to new opportunities and businesses that come with Internet speeds five to six times faster than our current broadband capabilities on the islands,” noted Jules Maher, CEO of Telecom Cook Islands. The country’s provider of integrated communications services signed a long-term agreement with O3b to utilise the Ka-band satellite operator’s bountiful bandwidth and its new fully-managed O3b Trunk solution. Launched last month, O3b Trunk is a scalable, bundled IP trunking product designed to deliver affordable, fiber-like capacity anywhere within 45 degrees north and south of the equator. O3b Trunk pricing and scalability will eliminate cost barriers to broadband and what Maher calls the “curse of remote distances” in emerging and under-served markets. “The days of painfully slow download speeds and frustrating user experiences are numbered on the Cook Islands,” said Maher. “Soon our businesses, residents and visitors will have the same capabilities to reach out to the rest of the world as other connected countries and communities around the globe,” Maher added. “It’s tremendously exciting and represents a historic milestone. “O3b delivers more bandwidth at lower latencies and costs,” explained Steve Collar, O3b Networks CEO. “That’s a powerful formula for telecom service providers determined to quench the growing thirst for broadband and connectivity in the countries, regions and communities they serve.” “Using O3b Trunk, a broad range of service providers can simply select the speed of the connection they want and we provide them with the fully-managed solution,” noted John Finney, Chief Commercial Officer for O3b. “We really are providing a solution that no one else can deliver,” he added. “There’s no need for cell towers or fiber infrastructure with O3b. An operator can quickly and easily deploy fast broadband or 3G and 4G services using O3b’s mobile backhaul and our IP trunking offers O3b Trunk,” Finney said. The nearest terrestrial fiber to the Cook Islands is in Tahiti, realistically out of reach for the isolated islands nation. O3b combines the reach of satellite with the speed of fiber at a price capable of making the Internet a truly global experience. “O3b offers amazing technologies, the equivalent of having a fiber cable dropping from the sky,” Maher said. “The arrival of O3b and the high-speed broadband and enhanced mobile capabilities it represents greatly increases the incentives for a broad range of businesses to consider moving to the Cook Islands,” he added. While the tourism industry drives most business on the islands, Maher is already hearing about interest among some high-tech firms looking to relocate. (sourced from http://www.islandsbusiness.com/islands_business/index_dynamic/containerNameToReplace=MiddleMiddle/focusModuleID=19966/overideSkinName=issueArticle-full.tpl) (2)

Internet in Education

Increasing access to the Internet has changed the way in which secondary students in the outer islands can participate in distance education. Completed student work was once posted back to the Correspondence School in Wellington. Now, student work is scanned onto CD and sent to Rarotonga for emailing direct to teachers at the School. Marks and teachers’ comments are now returned by email to students. These simple steps have greatly reduced turn-around times, allowing students to derive increased benefit from their teachers’ comments. In addition, students in outer island schools can now make use of school email facilities to communicate by email with their teachers in New Zealand. Although email access is something that is taken for granted in the developed world, in the outer islands this is radical step forward. (3)

Copyright law in Cook Islands

Copyright law in Education

OER Initiatives in Cook Islands

The Cook Islands are a member of the Virtual University for Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), which is a Commonwealth of Learning (COL) initiative focused on the development of OER for world-wide use in post-secondary education. (3)

The ICDE report on regulatory frameworks for distance education (1) notes that overall, educational facilities are below desired standards because of the lack of resources. There is also an issue with participation rates and retention and a shortage of secondary teachers. There is concern over the overall standard of educational achievement. Higher Education is delivered through the University of the South Pacific which has a campus on Rarotonga. The level of technology supporting the campus is improving all the time, but the declining population of the Cook Islands is also impacting on the HE student numbers. Distance Education dates back to the 1970’s in the Cook Islands. They were an original partner in the founding of University of the South Pacific and were early users of satellite technology to deliver programmes. They now have a full campus and have upgraded infrastructure through USPNet. The Cook Islands also have a strong relationship with New Zealand’s Correspondence School and the Open Polytechnic and are making increasing use of Open Educational Resources. The issues in education in the Cook Islands noted by the ICDE report might be helped by OERs and this possibility is supported by the reference made in the report to the increasing use of OERs.

National OER initiatives

Regional OER initiatives

Institutional OER initiatives

References

2. ReVica/VISCED page for the Cook Islands (http://virtualcampuses.eu/index.php/Cook_Islands)

3. ICDE Country Profile for the Cook Islands (http://www.icde.org/projects/regulatory_frameworks_for_distance_education/country_profiles/cook_islands/)

Reports

1. ICDE Report: 'Regulatory frameworks for distance education: A pilot study in the Southwest Pacific/South East Asia region - Final report'. December 2011. Prepared by the Project Team (Team leader, Dr. Rosalind James) (accessed at http://www.icde.org/filestore/Regulatory_Framework/RegulatoryFrameworksforDEfinalreport2.pdf on Monday 9th July 2012)


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