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Ethiopia children 'master tablet PCs'
American researchers from the organisation Global Advocacy, One Laptop Per Child have mounted an experiment in two small Ethiopian villages to see the effect of new technology on children in remote regions of the developing world.
Helped by the Ethiopian government, they gave out tablet PCs, programmed in English and without any instructions, to every child between four and eleven years old in their target areas.
Early findings, they say, are astonishing and appear to suggest that tablets may do more for some children's education than schools or teachers. Global Advocacy's Matt Keller explained the thinking behind the experiment to the Today programme's Mike Thomson.
Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.
The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell "neighborhood" properly and whatnot isn't a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn't going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.
"We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."
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