Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ethiopian village children figure out tablet PCs.

Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
It goes on, but here's the beginning, and it's pretty exciting:
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.
Rather than give out laptops (they're actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, "hey kids, here's this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!"
Just to give you a sense of what these villages in Ethiopia are like, the kids (and most of the adults) there have never seen a word. No books, no newspapers, no street signs, no labels on packaged foods or goods. Nothing. And these villages aren't unique in that respect; there are many of them in Africa where the literacy rate is close to zero. So you might think that if you're going to give out fancy tablet computers, it would be helpful to have someone along to show these people how to use them, right?

It reminds me of the Indian experiment some years back, but in India English is spoken all around, and there's printed word all over the place. Hole in the Wall
This article has photos of computers and kids in India: Using computers to teach children with no teachers Interestingly, the articles are still talking about "teaching" instead of learning. :-) They aren't "learning by teaching themselves." They're learning. Period.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Video Game Curriculum?

Video Game Curriculum? The Love to Learn Edition

This is based on a presentation given at a conference in 2012 by Tina Boster, whose biography at the conference's website says

Tina Boster is the mother of three children. She has a M.Ed. in Elementary Education, but she left her teaching career to unschool her children when her oldest son was reprimanded by his teacher for spending too much time reading about ancient Rome. She believes strongly in the philosophy of “Follow the child,” and her personal motto is, “I’m raising kids now; I’ll clean the house later.” She is a life-long learner and self-taught knitter. She is also part of a multigenerational gaming family, and she enjoys playing MMOs with her father, brother, husband, and all three of her children.
The article is one of the best I've seen on video gaming, with a long list of learning principles, and their fulfillment by gaming. Her resources list has sixteen links and no one will need to read them all to be persuaded of her point. After reading her blog post, you might not need to read any of them. :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012