22 Aug 2013
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Life Education finalist in ICT awards

By Rebecca Wood

Mobile health education provider, Life Education, is one of eight New Zealand finalists in the global World Summit Awards for creativity and innovation in ICT.

The non-profit organisation teaches health to primary and intermediate students around the country, with 50% of New Zealand schools visited annually and 80% every two years.

John O’Connell, Life Education’s CEO, says the selection is a vindication that Life Education is heading in the right direction by introducing the latest digital technology to its mobile classrooms.

In July, Life Education started rolling out mobile classrooms equipped with the latest Microsoft Kinect technology and software that replicates the human skeleton and organs

O’Connell says Life Education is continuing to grow and, to have the capacity to meet the needs of all New Zealand children, it needs to introduce 10 more technology driven classrooms in the next five years. To achieve that Life Education must be flexible in the way they deliver programmes, use their mobile classrooms more efficiently, and create an environment of ‘inquiry learning’ in the classroom.

“That means structuring our programme so we support teachers and the classroom environment as schools increasingly adopt an inquiry based approach to learning,” says O’Connell.

“Schools are at various stages of using digital technology and our goal is to embrace technology so we can create a leading edge learning environment in the classroom. Being a finalist in the World Summit Awards is validation of our direction.”

Teachers are an integral part of Life Education lessons and O’Connell wants the programmes Life Education provides to be embedded in the school teaching plan “rather than being a clip-on.”

“In doing that we can effectively show children how their bodies operate, build self esteem and resilience, and encourage them to appreciate they are unique and special. This helps them understand social relationships and the environment around them.”

Its selection as a finalist in the World Summit Awards has also spurred Life Education to achieve one of its other major goals in the next five years – creating a relationship with children beyond the classroom. To achieve that Life Education needs to build Club Harold. Harold, the giraffe, Life Education’s quintessential mascot, teaches youngsters to look up rather than down at their shoe laces.

“Life Education will be interactive through Harold. Children want to engage with him anytime, any place with whatever device they have,” says O’Connell.

“Our job is to have the technology in place so children and parents can access him through the web at home or wherever they are.

“As a provider of unique education programmes we must understand where schools will be in five years’ time, what the children of a future generation want and meet that need.”

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