A coach can conjure up images of adventure, earthbound expeditions and scenic vistas stretching off into the distance. The open road is a symbol of freedom for many. Grey nomads, hippies and Queens of The Desert named Priscilla with long flowing scarves travel on buses. So too do rock stars and musicians, thrill seekers, day trippers and tourists.
In 1965, Freedom Ride students advocating for aboriginal rights used a bus to communicate their message. Coaches are iconic, they are magic, they are the dusty and democratised transport of the people.
Digital crusader, educator & entrepreneur Tim Gentle won a bus, and called it the Think Digital Coach. Why did he want a bus, you ask? To bring tech to the people in the far corners of Australia, and in the process bridge the digital divide in a unique way. A hi-tech digital media lab on wheels, the Think Digital Coach’s purpose is to provide digital education and experiences to people living in regional and rural areas.
The need for this program is real. A glance at the Australian Digital Index 2016 makes it easy to see that there are “significant differences” between rural and urban areas – referred to as the ‘Capital–Country gap.’ Rural areas are disadvantaged in the crucial areas of digital ability and affordability. In the Index, Swinburne University of Technology President and Professor Linda Kristjanson warns that Australia’s digital divide contains a “risk of deepening social, economic, and cultural inequalities.”
“As digital technologies become ever-more central to public and private life,” she says, “the disadvantages of not being connected increase.”
As the founder of ThinkDigital, Tim has over 20 years’ experience in the digital world and has delivered well over 1000 workshops both internationally and across Australia. Over the first week the school holidays the Library has had the pleasure of hosting Tim’s workshops as part of the Storylab program and provided a showcased parking spot for the bus. The public has flocked to the library’s digital offerings including not only the Think Digital Coach but also the Digital Inclusion Forum and a refreshed Digital Futures Lab (2.0) that includes future fashion, drone simulators and an augmented reality timeline.
As the bus gets back on the road for its new adventure the Library continues its Digital Futures theme with workshops, talks and other activities throughout the year.
Digital Futures Lab 2.0
Open daily until 5 Nov, 10am–5pm | SLQ Gallery, level 2 | Free
Anne Pensalfini, Signature Program
Freedom Ride: https://aiatsis.gov.au/exhibitions/1965-freedom-ride
Think Digital Coach: https://www.thinkdigitalcoach.com.au/
Thomas, J, Barraket, J, Ewing, S, MacDonald, T, Mundell, M & Tucker, J 2016, Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2016, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, for Telstra.
Storylab – Exploring New Realities: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/calevents/general/children/story-lab-winter-2017/exploring-new-realities-on-the-thinkdigital-coach-29-jun-am
2017 Digital Inclusion Forum: http://www.plconnect.slq.qld.gov.au/resources/literacy/literacy-forums/2017-literacy-forum
Digital Futures Lab 2.0: http://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/calevents/general/digital-futures/digital-futures/lab