Digital Communities Development Centre launched

Collaboration with 'One Laptop' initiative bears fruit

The Digital Communities Development Centre was launched at the University of Auckland’s Engineering School yesterday.

The Centre is a collaboration project between the One Laptop Per Child New Zealand Pacific development group, the University of Auckland, the University of the South Pacific and the Computer Clubhouse Trust, which is an after-school computer centre in Otara, South Auckland. The Computer Clubhouse 274 is open every afternoon, and the youngsters come to, for example, create music and videos, interact on the web and learn how to use creativity programs.

The main purpose of the DCDC is to develop software and content for New Zealand and Pacific Island children that reflect their cultures, and give them confidence to use computers and technology to interact with the world, said John Blackham, trustee of the Computer Clubhouse Trust, and chairperson of the OLPC New Zealand Pacific development group.

One of the Clubhouse members, Lolita Lio, said the Clubhouse is not just about computers, it is about connecting people and learning how to utilise technology.

“The younger Clubhouse members are already ahead of me,” she said.

For her, the Clubhouse was part of her path to being accepted into a Bachelor of Communication degree next year. Lio said the centre is a positive project, that is “not seeing our community as a problem that needs to be fixed”, she said.

The DCDC will also develop and test software for the OLPC project, said John Corey, director for the Centre for Software Innovation at University of Auckland. He hopes the lab will attract a number of volunteers that will contribute with their knowledge.

The Warehouse founder Stephen Tindall's foundation is a sponsor of the Otara Clubhouse 274 project.

The non-profit OLPC organisation was founded by MIT Media Laboratory co-founder Nicholas Negroponte. The project aims to provide children around the world with US$100 laptops and the opportunity to explore, experiment and express themselves.

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