The One Laptop Per Child program is seeing amazing things happen with Android tablets in a small village in Ethiopia. The article on Mashable “Given Tablets But No Teachers, Ethiopian Kids Teach Themselves” is an inspiring read. Tablet computers such as the Motorola Xoom’s that are being used by OLPC to provide to children in remote areas are being used in ways that none of the program’s staff thought would be possible, In a simple experiment of dropping off a closed box of tablets with no instructions awesome things occurred.
Nicholas Negroponte the founder of OLPC describing the situation.
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.”
While providing a tablet computer to a child that is not able to attend a regular school class can help them learn and read it also may be building the next generation of entrepreneurs. These children with very humble backgrounds not only can grasp the basics and learn from the device they proved they can improve it and make it better. Children naturally question and investigate the world around them and when provided with the freedom to explore they can come up with amazing ideas and inventions. There certainly will be more inspiring events to come from this program and hopefully from more children around the world as they embrace technology and are exposed to innovation.