Long bypassed by the digital revolution, young students or disadvantaged groups in remote parts of the country no longer have to worry about not having computer classes.
Teachers and the necessary equipment can now be sent quickly to in-need areas through a “digital mobile classroom” campaign that was launched in 2010 under the APEC Digital Opportunity Center (ADOC) project and which continues to expand.
Taiwan initiated the ADOC project in 2003 to narrow digital divides throughout APEC member economies and began a second phase in 2009 to get private companies and charitable groups involved.
Though the program’s main focus has been outside the country, with its 101 centers established in other nations, the mobile concept has been important in bridging digital divides at home.
The mobile classrooms are actually small vans equipped with laptop computers, tablet PCs, projectors, teaching materials, software and one or two teachers and assistants. All that is then needed to hold classes is a clean venue with desks, chairs, a power source and lighting.
Already in place in Yilan and Hualien counties, the mobile classroom will become available in Taitung County in the first quarter of this year and is expected to serve about 11,000 people over three years, the ADOC 2.0 Non-government Project Office said on Dec. 25.
The Acer Foundation and Hanguang Education Foundation will foot the bill for tablet PCs, related information facilities and operating expenses for the new digital mobile classroom to create more learning and job opportunities.
Acer founder Stan Shih (施振榮), who heads the project office, said expanding the coverage of digital mobile classrooms to the Taitung area marked “a great milestone” for the second phase of the ADOC program.
The move will not only help “plant the roots” of digital learning services in eastern Taiwan, but also drive commercial development in that part of the country and contribute to local economic growth, he said at an inauguration ceremony.
According to a digital opportunity survey conducted by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission, 75.6 percent of Taitung’s households own at least one computer, lagging behind the national average of 86.5 percent.
“The main goal of implementing the digital mobile classroom project is to help trainees build their confidence during classes,” said Lin Heng-yi, a project assistant who has taught elderly people in Hualien. “We will always encourage them and help them understand that learning about computers is not difficult at all and that their skills can be improved quickly with practice.”