31 October 2012

Ethiopian kids with tablet PC

We all now that Africa is filled with poor and underdeveloped nations. Where poverty is king and knowledge is scarce. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization recently did some interesting experiment.

They give two villages in Ethiopia, tablet computers, preloaded with applications and dropped off in closed boxes. Keep in mind that the kids there never seen a written word before and boxed packages before. What happens ?

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.” 
Elaborating later on Negroponte’s hacking comment, Ed McNierney, OLPC’s chief technology officer, said that the kids had gotten around OLPC’s effort to freeze desktop settings. “The kids had completely customized the desktop—so every kids’ tablet looked different.  We had installed software to prevent them from doing that,” McNierney said. “And the fact they worked around it was clearly the kind of creativity, the kind of inquiry, the kind of discovery that we think is essential to learning.”
Source: Technology Review 
That is just amazing. This shows that tablet pc can be used as a learning device and kids without any instructions can  figure out how to use the tablet on their own. Just in case you are wondering, the tablet used is Motorola Xoom equipped with solar charging that the OLPC technician has teach the adults how to use.

I am happy to see that technology can help kids in Africa. Now if only we can have an affordable tablet pc that is very useful, not slow or hard to use. The world will be a better place.


  1. Ethiopian Kids Hack Their OLPC Tablets in 5 Months, With No Help
  2. Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves
  3. Weekend news round-up: Ethiopian kids teach themselves via computers; Google's next big thing
  4. Tablet Equipped Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves, No Teachers, No Schools

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