A computer hub is a room full of computers that participants can use throughout the day to do self-paced or mentored study on the latest computer programs. With several already established, there could be more of these around the Tairawhiti district in due course if sufficient income is generated to cover supervision and overheads for each hub.
The computer hubs themselves can be a classroom with networked computers in it — or a specially created and outfitted shared learning facility with networked computers in it. TaiTech Trust leases the space in Kaiti used for our Regional Digital Hub at the Kaiti Mall —beside the SuperValue.
Self-paced study means that you sit in front of a computer and use online resources to learn new things.
The Online Resources could be from a manufacturer of software (such as Microsoft or Adobe), or from a user group forum (such as the many blog sites and how to resources created for HTML 5), or could be from an industry association (such as the NZ Game Developers Association www.nzgda.com).
During our hours of opening, there is always somebody at our hub and participants are encouraged to use the online forums and communities available in their area of study to ask other people around the world for help and guidance in getting skilled up in the programs of their choice. The learner/student learns at their own pace. See a list of some of these online learning resources here.
In time we will have both generic and specific spaces set up for different purposes - so one may be set up to do mobile phone and tablet apps while another could be set up with a green screen and video filming gear.
Most school students of Computing / Digital Technologies enjoy sharing their knowledge and skills with each other. Those who are at the lead in learning tend to use online searches and YouTube to inform their practice and develop greater expertise in doing so. The notion of learning communities is an extension of this. We believe that the learning communities for Tairāwhiti should not be constrained to our geographical boundaries, but should instead include those who are related (whanau) or in many cases those who are available online. The Open-Source community is a clear example of such sharing ideas, and the Tairāwhiti Technology Trust aims to follow this pattern rather than the traditional models of teacher-centric instruction.
The Trust connects with sites at other locations within the Tairāwhiti area where there is a need due to low socio-economic factors, limited or no access to computer facilities, helping to provide community groups with better access to technology. The Trust through providing access to technology aims to build strong relationships that strengthen local communities.
The Trust encourages the residents of the Tairāwhiti region to link cultural knowledge and values with technology.
The curriculum and learning materials are not restricted to those found online that have been created by various third parties that teach various aspects of computing or other allied topics. Such courses may intend becoming part of the offerings, and indeed, in the case of the CISCO Academy, are available so long as there are qualified instructors available in the district. However, although formal courses and tutorials are available, primarily those published by the software companies such as Google, Adobe and Microsoft, most of the learning materials are those freely available from established practitioners and users of the software applications. Such users, and their associated user group forums, are included in the preferred approaches to learning that the mentors and supervisors will promote. The main purposes are for users to develop a broad skill set which will enable them to also assist with the learning of others in the traditions of tuakana-teina. Users of the Regional Digital Hub are encouraged to develop portfolios of practice which they can present to potential employers as evidence of their skills in place of, or in addition to, more formal certification.
Users can access formal diagnostic tools and training courses from a local server or via the internet and undertake the steps in each tutorial using the computers and software provided by the Trust. Equally important to the learning is the informal sharing of skills and understandings of other users.
Mentors and supervisors are available with basic skills in the various software programs or allied topics and provide direction and support to those users requiring it. Such support can consist of encouraging them to engage with other users who already have achieved some mastery of the skills and understandings of the given applications. Hub participants are encouraged to join the user groups and self-help forums for their chosen software programs.
The Trust prioritises low-income and otherwise disadvantaged communities and groups but our offerings are available to any Tairāwhiti resident from school age to senior citizens.
Fees and charges
There is no cost to access any of the facilities during opening hours for participants doing self-paced study. Some courses are available that are already funded by various entities, and other courses incur a small fee to pay for the tutor time. Some courses are available as professional development for individuals or organisations.
From time to time conditions may be imposed.