OK, so this week we're reading about the One Laptop Per Child's project in which they sent tablets to Ethiopian children to "see what happens." Here are the articles: one and two.
OK, I'd like to bring everybody's attention to the following quote from the first article:
"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."
I'm sorry, WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Here's my more calmed reaction. This is insane! These kids have only had this technology (or any technology, for that matter) for five months, and they're already more qualified to work in software than I am. Not to mention, you know, the fact that these kids had no prior exposure to, well, anything. More evidence to support why I'm in grad school. HIYO!!!!!
I think there's a saying that applies here: necessity is the mother of invention. As the articles said, some idiot disabled the cameras on the tablets, and how else are the kids supposed to pimp out their Facebook pages without pictures? But in all seriousness, this just goes to show how intuitive technology has become and how ingenious mankind is as a whole. Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; give a kid a tablet, and he'll hack the $#*!@=+ out of it :S
This was a pretty awesome idea and amazing result, but is it really cheaper than getting these kids their basic necessities (i.e., food, water, medicine, etc.)? I keep seeing commercials that say stuff like "One dollar helps feed 4 children" or something similar. A Motorola Xoom costs about $250, and that's not considering the solar-powered chargers or the custom job they did installing the software. While I think it's important to give these kids education and entertainment (which is much more valuable, in my opinion), people should stay on-task. Man cannot live on Angry Birds alone; trust me, I've tried.
The article also talks about using this tablet-based approach as opposed to sending teachers. I'm a bit skeptical about that. As an aspiring teacher, I believe in the value of in-person instruction; however, I agree that traditional class instruction is flawed. And there it is! Why not spend some time and effort making class instruction better and more effective. If these kids could become hax0rs all by themselves, imagine what they could do with proper guidance. And again, is it really cheaper to send all these tablets than to get a teacher to go there and do some teaching?
In short, I think this was great, but don't lose sight of what these kids need to survive (and no, I'm not talking about Words With Friends or Twitter).