Tech exec share youthful insights

Technology is going to take over.
Technology is going to be everywhere – embrace it!
Internet is vital nowdays, just like water, food and shelter.

These are just a few of the comments about the technology in the future from some members of the Wellington-based Tech Exec. The Tech Exec are a group of senior high school students involved in all sorts of ICT projects. Last week some of the group they braved a sea of suits at one of State Service Commission’s regular online participation community of practice lunchtime seminars to co-present.

The session was facilitated by WCC’s Raewyn Baldwin who is working with the Tech Exec on various council projects. One recent event the Tech Exec organised was a half-day Tech Hui for 200 students across the Wellington region to learn about the IT industry.

Comments about online participation was refreshingly direct: make your websites interesting – visual and dynamic; and find ways to allow more than the dedicated few to comment. For at least one student, the role of goverment was limited to meeting immediate needs, including getting a drivers licences, taking out a student loan and eventually voting. Therefore the need to be consulted or interact with government was seen as being very limited.

There is lots expertise among the speakers. The students at Wellington Girls College have been running the Tech Angels programme for several years. Computer savvy students work with run lunchtime mentoring in the use of IT for other students. The Tech Angel vision stretches way this beyond “…to challenging the way that everyone learns – both teachers and students.” Daniel, a student at Wellington High School, is working on collaborative arts production project in Mount Cook. He’s already developed, coded and is supporting a content management system, called KustomPage.

You can read, view or listen to student presentations about these and other projects from the Time 4 Online web-based conference for teachers, held 28 May to 8 June 2007.

The Tech Exec are not necessarily representative of all young people around the country. Those students lucky enough to live in major urban centres and with well-paid parents might get fast broadband but not everyone can. Michelle from the Ministry of Youth Development said that one third of 500 Provoke youth network members did not have Internet access of any kind. Another Youth Development advisor said many of the young people in smaller centres like Greymouth or Kaiapoi were unlikely to have good access. Considering the infrastructure alone, broadband is simply not readily available.

I suspect and hope that by the time the presenters are my age, the distortions of access will have been ironed out. However, much as I’m an Internet junkie, I don’t really like the idea of technology taking over the way the Tech Exec reps foresee. Perhaps this is something we could talk about.