‘One Laptop Per Child’ Unleashes The Genius In African Children

‘One Laptop Per Child’ Unleashes The Genius In African Children

Nov 07


Chocolate City: The Best African American Blog
November 6, 2012

Original Link

I tried to watch the program “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on CNN as often as possible. Today, the host, Fareed Zakaria had some outstanding guests. However, I was deeply touched when Zakaria talked about the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) organization. OLPC is a non-profit organization that aims to provide every child in the world with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. OLPC is also developing strategic partnerships with educational content developers, such as Sesame Street Workshop, UNESCO, and Little Pim, which will provide content for the XO devices.

According to Zakaria, OLPC performed a bold experiment that has shown “encouraging” results. OLPC dropped off closed and taped boxes with Motorola Xoom tablets and without any instruction in two remote Ethiopian villages. The tablets were preloaded with alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs. About 20 first-grade-aged children each were given a tablet in Wonchi and Wolonchete respectively — two isolated rural villages without a person that can read or write.

Within four minutes after the tablets were dropped off, one of the children figured out how to turn on and use the tablet. Within minutes they were experimenting with various apps. After several months, the kids in both villages were heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines. On “Fareed Zakaria GPS” a tape was shown that showed some of the kids reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to a literacy game with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.”

OLPC reports that within five days, they were using about 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,” Nicholas Negroponte, founder and chairman of the One Laptop per Child 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.”

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,” he added.





  1. Linda

    Two ‘wonderings’ from this:
    1. Is the knowledge of how to interact with computers somehow ‘in the air’ of these times?
    2. Would the children be quite so inquisitive and creative brought up in what may be a more passive Western society, or did their experiences in the more three dimensional world add to their genius?

    Inquiring minds want to know! :-)

  2. This is wonderful!! What an uplifting story. I love it.

  3. Clint Summer

    Sounds wonderful – and, I am concerned about the health effects of exposing young children to close-range wifi signals. This is not an “experiment” I would be in favor of. See this video:

  4. It is so clear that the future is so bright for our younger generation with the coming technologies.

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