Rural Indian Kids Still Learning Computers Quickly

from the who-needs-computer-literate-parents? dept

While some have been complaining that kids without computer literate parents are at a disadvantage, studies in India have shown that might not be true. We first mentioned this experiment many years ago, when a researcher cut a hole in a wall and put a computer in it for street children and discovered that they could teach themselves to use computers very quickly. It appears the same guy is still at, going around to rural villages and giving out computers to see how quickly kids pick up the basics — and discovering that it’s rarely a problem. With a little bit of experimenting, the kids figure out all the basics. Of course, not everyone is enthusiastic about the program — claiming that these kids need a lot more (food, medicine, etc.) before they need a computer. However, it does give hope that the idea of the “digital divide” for less than well-off children may not be that big a deal.

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Comments on “Rural Indian Kids Still Learning Computers Quickly”

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dorpus says:

If they can read, sure

What is the use of computers for kids, if they can’t read? How do we know these kiosks aren’t going to become slave markets for children sold into slavery?

This guy is just touting his successes in villages where he figured he’d succeed. How many villages has he not gone to, and how much wrongdoing is already happening because of the kiosks? Maybe this guy is a pied piper who snares ignorant villagers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: If they can read, sure

Which part of the Republic of Fear are you from? I know of many poor Russians who taught themselves to read and write english from just experimenting with computers. Little to no formal education. These same Russians have built successful software companies whose main clients are American. I know this because I helped them incorporate in America so the U.S. government would buy from them. I think you are mistaken in the idea that keeping people from something will do them more good than harm.

Ann says:

No Subject Given

I’ve read that there were problems with this particular experiment. The idea may be perfectly sound, but this person is promoting the results based mostly on his own data. Someone else that followed up found that the children were learning mostly just how to point and click, and that parents were complaining that the children were no longer studying for school because they spent their time playing computer games. Of course, maybe that shows that rural Indian children can quickly become like kids everywhere else!

All of this takes money, not just to place the computers originally but to maintain them. It’s worth asking whether this is the most cost-effective way to help these children learn. If we give up on clean drinking water or school books simply to provide the children with video games, one can question the trade-off. But my children have benefited greatly from educational software such as JumpStart, Reader Rabbit, etc., so there’s potential, if it’s done well.

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