Education boost for at-risk drivers

Methodist Mission Southern ICT leader Dave Eggers wears a headset which will be used to develop a virtual mechanic's workshop, thanks to funding from Gig City. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN
Methodist Mission Southern ICT leader Dave Eggers wears a headset which will be used to develop a virtual mechanic's workshop, thanks to funding from Gig City. PHOTO: GERARD O'BRIEN

A virtual workshop and a drink-driving simulation is set to provide extra engagement and an education boost for at-risk learner drivers in Dunedin.

Methodist Mission Southern is the recipient of $25,576 to put towards virtual reality headsets and programming.

The funding is part of the latest round of Gig City community funding stemming from Dunedin's Gigatown win in 2014.

Mission business development leader Jimmy McLauchlan said they were looking for ways of ‘‘engaging'' their learners, who often had high needs.

‘‘The challenging part is giving people a reason to participate,'' Mr McLauchlan said.

‘‘We're always looking at creative ways of tapping into their existing interests.‘‘It will actually mean that learning is more effective.

‘‘It's really critical for us to have this seed funding.''

Most of the funding will be used to develop two programmes; one a drink-driving programme, that would simulate what it was like to drive drunk and allow learners to identify possible consequences.

The other programme would teach learners mechanical skills in a virtual workshop.

‘‘By putting on the headset, they are going to learn some great transferable mechanical skills.‘‘No-one has ever really done it for high needs learners.

‘‘The Gig City funding will get us a long way in the first stage,'' Mr McLauchlan said.

Students spoken to about the idea were ‘‘dead keen'' to have the use of virtual technology for learning, he said.

Methodist Mission Southern ran level one and two qualifications for 15 to 20 youths and adult learners, as well as prisoners at Otago Corrections Facility.

In other funding, a collaboration between Logan Park High School and linguists Frederic Dichtel, Dr Romain Garby and Dr Alice Harang was granted $20,000 to develop an app for translating Maori to English.

Just over $9000 was allocated to the New Zealand Python User Group to be used for Minecraft coding workshops at the Kiwi Pycon Conference in Dunedin on September 11.

A total of $20,000 each was given to the Otago Polytechnic to fund an online literacy programme, SuchCrowd to develop a crowd-sourcing platform for events and Pitri Dish to develop a shared tech space. Chorus provided $500,000 to Dunedin city for winning the Gigatown competition.

Applications for the next round of funding opens in August.

rhys.chamberlain@odt.co.nz

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