What is the SmartCentres programme?
Many research studies have shown that technology is the key to learning, the key to connecting students and their families, and the key to the development of all involved in education. It was with this knowledge that the SmartCentres programme was born.
The SmartCentres initiative is a community development activity developed in association with an Advisory Group from the Early Childhood Centres. It is supported by the Digital Strategy Community Partnership Fund, administered by the department of Internal Affairs.
In a nutshell, SmartCentres is a programme designed to help Early Childhood Centres to develop holistic plans for using ICT within their education programmes. It is also designed to assist with obtaining funding and resources to achieve the implementation of their ICT plan.
Currently, over 30 Manukau early childhood centres participate in the SmartCentres programme, including 20 Pasifika centres that have received laptops donated by IBM.
How it works:
Each Early Childhood Centre partners with a designated facilitator to undertake the SmartCentres project. The teams work together to firstly identify the centre’s current resources and discern how these resources are used. Once this ‘stocktake’ has taken place, this knowledge is used as the foundation for creating a holistic, detailed plan that incorporates the following:
- A background statement for each centre focusing on current ICT use
- An ICT Vision developed from discussions in the centre. Where do the centres want to be in 3-5 years?
- A stocktake of current equipment and resource needs
- A professional development strategy to develop educators’ understanding of how technology can be used for learning and for connecting to their families.
- An ICT funding strategy to help the centres apply for funds or fundraise for their technology needs
- A plan for how each centre will work with family and community
- A plan for how the centre will work with other centres
Through partnerships with organisations such as IBM, over 30 ECE centres in Manukau are now beginning to realise the programme’s four goals:
- Have access to a digital camera
- Have a computer for administration as well as one for learning
- Have professional development to build confidence in staff
- Be connected to the internet via high-speed broadband