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Save the Children started their Programming the Future program in Regional and remote locations of NSW as they all fall lower than the NSW average of household internet access. Having lower than average access to internet, high youth populations and high unemployment rates creates a ‘digital divide’ similar to social divides common in socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
A larger digital divide is found to lead to less confidence and decreased youth employability.
The project is based on James Dellow’s Digital Theory of Change, developed in the UK, which helps young people through discovering emerging technologies, creating and making, using technology to resolve social issues they have identified and connecting young people with mentors to accelerate their learning. Young people are exposed to vital skill development opportunities including communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity.
Save the Children trains community champions and supports them to set up Digital Excellence Hubs in Bathurst and Dubbo, and satellite locations in more remote communities where young people can access technologies and learn new skills.
In Term 3 & 4 2018, 2 Digital Excellence Hubs were set up –one in Bathurst and one in Dubbo– where Save the Children delivered 27 training sessions to over 200 Programming the Future 'champions' (people from schools, libraries, community services and community leaders) in communities across regional/remote NSW.
These champions have commenced conducting digital education sessions to 145 young people to date.
With the $30,000 from Footprints allowed the Programming the Future team to purchase the necessary technology equipment to run the program including coding, robotics, electronics, virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D modelling/printing equipment.
Programming the Future has sparked an exciting digital awakening in regional/remote communities that previously had little-to-zero- exposure to the positive impact they could achieve with technology.
Prior to Programming the Future many teachers had not included Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) learning into their curriculum. Now a large proportion of teachers involved as Programming the Future champions are using both coding and robotics every week.
Programming the Future has helped establish Bathurst headspace as a leader in emerging technology
Programming and has trained and up skilled Champions from Oberon Library, Bathurst Library, Macquarie Regional Library and the Bathurst Aboriginal Education Consultative Group.
“Programming the Future has given me the opportunity to learn new skills in a variety of digital firsts technologies including VR, AR, Coding, 3D modelling and printing.
Since working with Programming the Future, I have run a coding club for young boys aged 12-14 and am in the process of running an invention club. The coding club gave them the opportunity to learn new skills and build confidence within themselves.”
– Amanda Rohr. Youth Care Coordinator, headspace. Programming the Future Champion.
The Close the Digital Divide for Youth in Australia is a continuing project with a new term starting in February 2019.