It can be very difficult – even impossible – to get teachers in remote areas, much less build schools and stock it with supplies.
So the brilliant minds at One Laptop Per Child came up with an experiment. What would happen if remote villages in Ethiopia were given tablet stocked with programs designed to help children learn to read? Would children that had literally never been exposed to the written word read?
The answer? A big fat YES.
If you aren’t already familiar with One Laptop Per Child, here’s some basic information:
We aim to provide each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. To this end, we have designed hardware, content and software for collaborative, joyful, and self-empowered learning. With access to this type of tool, children are engaged in their own education, and learn, share, and create together. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.
The laptops cost only $199 (you can donate a laptop here).
But back to the experiment. MIT’s Technology Review describes the experiment.
The devices involved are Motorola Xoom tablets—used together with a solar charging system, which Ethiopian technicians had taught adults in the village to use. Once a week, a technician visits the villages and swaps out memory cards so that researchers can study how the machines were actually used.
But it wasn’t just learning to read that happened to the kids.
Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”
Read the entire article. What an amazing story!