Technology is giving country kids adventures in all kinds of exotic places, from Antarctica to the Borneo Rain Forest.
And even inside the human body.
St Joseph’s School in Glen Innes recently hosted 15 librarians from schools in Tamworth, Armidale, Inverell, Gunnedah, Mungindi and Narrabri to show off its equipment which lets children see far away places in three dimensions.
And nearby places in three dimensions – like inside the pipes and tubes which make up people.
It’s part of the way school libraries are reinventing themselves for an era where ignorance of technology means unemployment.
As St Joseph’s librarian, Cath Adams, put it: “We don’t even know what jobs they’ll be doing. Some jobs haven’t been invented yet and we have to prepare them.”
Ideally, schools would have virtual reality headsets but they remain expensive (though they’re coming down in price).
But much can be achieved with special glasses which allow children (and adults) to view places like Paris, or the polar regions or San Diego Zoo or the detail of vegetation in rain forests, all in three dimensions.
“Kids from the country can go to places they might never get to. Some of them have never been to Sydney but with these devices they can go round solar farms all over the world”, she said. And they seem to love it.
The children are also being introduced to robotics and computer coding, even in kindergarten.
At St Joseph’s, children have access to online books and conventional ones, made of paper. They seem to prefer the traditional ones, according to Cath Adams.
She conceds that ebooks are great if you’re travelling or want a book at weekends when libraries are closed.
But, she says: “Kids prefer books.”