March 21, 2008

Embracing the Digital Change


Thursday, November 29, 2007

This week over 500 leaders from telecommunications, IT, education, youth, iwi, and government gathered at the Digital Future Summit held at the Hyatt Regency in Auckland to help chart the way forward for ICT in New Zealand.

Among the array of talent presenting were: Barry Vercoe, professor of Music and Media Arts And Sciences at Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and expat from Paeroa; David Cunliffe, Minister of Communications; Deputy Prime Minister, Michael Cullen, Minister of Broadcasting, Trevor Mallard; Sean McDougal, MD of Stakeholder Design; and Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief Wired plus a host of other luminaries from industry, commerce, government and education.

Prof Barry Vercoe discussed the internationally respected One laptop per child programme led by MIT. In brief the programme enables access to the Internet so that creativity and innovation are encouraged rather than stifled. He discussed ways in which laptops costing no more than $100 were made available to schoolchildren in the Solomon Islands. An e-learning community is then built by networking the laptops together.

We saw the responses and enthusiasm for learning as kids got to have their own laptop and to explore the Internet for themselves. In today's world we all need to be familiar with digital technology if we are going to have a say and have a role to play. We need to ensure that there are no pockets of New Zealand where children are left on the wrong side of the digital divide through lack of income or because they happen to live in the wrong part of the country.

Parents can draw real support from access to broadband and good information about parenting resources. Parents also need to be aware of the some of the risks associated with the Internet. Hectors World and other work by groups like Netsafe are all part of the pack of resources with which parents need to be empowered if we are to equip our children with the tools necessary to prosper in the 21st century while at the same time minimising risks from harmful elements in the Internet world. Amidst the many changes and uncertainties created by rapid technological change one thing is certain. To succeed in the 21st century we need to be able to use the power and capacity of the new ICT tools with the ease and confidence that children today are displaying. This applies across generations as well as between socio-economic groups and nation states.

For more details on the summit itself refer to http://www.digitalsummit.org.nz/.

Posted by Roger Ellis at 4:27 PM
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