Cutting-edge technology facilitates connections across our network of 41 selected early childhood education and care centres in regional, rural and remote areas of NSW and ACT. These centres are referred to as Early Start ‘engagement centres’ (ESECs) and they are predominantly situated in areas of disadvantage. The engagement centres play a key role in the vision of Early Start and will work collaboratively with each other, their families and communities and also with UOW staff and students on a range of projects to realise the potential of children in areas of disadvantage.
Each engagement centre is provided with an ‘IT bundle’ that includes interactive learning and teaching tools such as a SMART interactive table, SMART interactive touch screen panel, video-conferencing software and mobile tablets. Over the next 24 months, Early Start will partner with the ESECs to build a dense network between centres and Early Start’s multi-disciplinary team of specialist services and to the rest of the world. With these connections in place, children and educators will have direct access to a suite of educational packages and learning tools that would otherwise be unavailable, thus helping to create better outcomes for children.
The centres act as portals into their communities and the connections we are forging will allow the University of Wollongong to ground its teaching and research activities in real life settings whilst providing authentic learning opportunities for students and researchers across many disciplines. Through our engagement centres we are working hard to support the provision of enhanced educational opportunities for children, families and educators, to connect with services outside our network that provide support for children’s learning and development and to ensure that the significance of early years education is recognised.