Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Searching for India's Hole in the Wall | A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education

Thanks to Will Richardson for sharing this story about street computers in India. I have heard of this before and am still fascinated by things like the author references below:
The contrast here was for me pretty stark: One the one hand, you had two computers set up outside which received minimal maintenance, and which anyone could use from 9-5 each day.  There was no direction on how to use this equipment, but that didn't stop kids from figuring it out via trial and error (or, more often, from other kids).  On the other hand, you had a dozen computers locked up in a school just a short walk away, gathering dust for lack of 'qualified teachers' to use them, and direct their use.

The image of a locked school computer room door, and of an educator explaining why the door had to remain locked, however, and the image of a bunch of children animatedly using computers on the street less than a hundred meters away, is not one that I will soon forget.
Connect this to finding other kinds of "technology" on the street....Kids can find picture books on the street and they learn to hold the book the right way to have the pictures tell a story. That doesn't mean they can read and understand the written text, but they can figure out how the book "works". I know from my experiences with my own young children that the ease with which kids acquire the skills to manipulate technology is quite different from their ability to critically find and analyze information and use that information to create new things. Yes kids can find and USE this technology but are they really building the skills that they truly need without guidance? I wonder...

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