01 Oct 2015
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Mobile Learning Centre taking tech to the school gates

By Heather Wright

Noel Leeming has been taking to North Island roads, clocking up more than 20,000km in the name of bringing technology to low decile schools.

The Mobile Learning Centre is a community initiative designed to share new technology with New Zealand’s most remote and least advantaged communities. Microsoft, Acer, 2Degrees and HP are among the technology companies throwing their support behind the project.

More than 100 low decile schools have been visited by the  Mobile Learning Centre, which is an extension of Noel Leeming’s Open Learning Centres, which have been running in-store since May 2013.

The Mobile Learning Centre, driven by mobile learning specialists Maxton Gilchrist-Priebe and Eve Reed, lets students, parents and teachers experience first-hand some of the world’s latest technology, while demonstrating how it can enrich and shape lives.

“Technology has become an essential part of our daily lives and it’s important that all New Zealand’s have access to the learning possibilities it brings,” Says Gilchrist-Priebe.

The vehicle is fitted out with all the latest technology enabling children to listen and learn, with an activity area to create digital content and experiment using devices including 3D printers, laptops, Chromebooks and tablets.

Gilchrist-Priebe says technology can be used to engage students and enrich learning. He cites the example of ‘mystery skype’ which allows small rural schools to connect with new friends from around the world and experience a cultural exchange, or the use of Minecraft for a  ‘trip’ to Gallipoli.

“As an educational classroom activity, we are able to explore digital worlds and teach students how to work together by solving puzzles and challenges,” he says.

Information has been tailored to each community the Mobile Learning Centre has visited.

“During a recent visit to a school in flood damaged Whanganui, we developed a workshop around disaster situations exploring a variety of new ways to communicate and help one another during such an event,” Gilchrist-Priebe says.

“Our aim is to provide ongoing support for teachers as they continue to explore modern learning,” he says.

“We understand how hard it can be to stay up to date with all the online resources, programmes and apps, so we currently provide all teachers with an online resource kit offering great ideas to continue to spark innovation.”

The Mobile Learning Centre will continue to travel the rest of New Zealand over the coming year, visiting senior citizens as well as schools.

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