When I first used a tablet, what struck me, apart from the intuitiveness of touch-screen, was its potential in educating children in the poorer corners of the Earth – children who have a desire to learn but no access to formal education. Here are five reasons why tablets could transform education in these parts:
- They have long battery lives, minimal power consumption and can be solar-charged
- Many apps can work on or offline
- They are intuitive (you don’t need prior knowledge of Windows, for example)
- Generally speaking, tablets are cheap
- Tablets are durable and low-maintenance
To illustrate their potential, The One Laptop per Child organisation conducted a fascinating experiment by dropping boxes of tablet computers into two remote villages in Ethiopia. The Motorola Xooms, loaded with educational apps, were quickly adopted by the villages’ children even though they had no previous contact with any such technology. When the researchers visited months later, the kids in both villages were still heavily engaged in using and recharging the machines, and had been observed reciting the “alphabet song,” and even spelling words. One boy, exposed to literacy games with animal pictures, opened up a paint program and wrote the word “Lion.” Older children had even worked out how to hack the Android operating system to gain access to hidden software. The full article is available here.
There are some remarkable charities doing pioneering work in Africa with tablet computers. We have paired up with one of these, Livingstone Tanzania Trust, who are running a pilot project using Hudls pre-loaded with educational apps including DoodleMaths. We believe that DoodleMaths will provide the opportunity for motivated students to learn maths for themselves, but also provide a structure and framework around which the local teachers may be able to base lessons. Each Hudl will be offline for periods in excess of a month, meaning children will need to stick to using the same tablet each time. DoodleMaths can store the work programs of up to 100 students at a time in an offline situation. We’re excited to see how it pans out!
For more information about the work of Livingstone Tanzania Trust you can visit their website.