One of my great joys is to find two seemingly independent stories and tie them together with an education twist.
The first story comes via Businessweek.
Toys R Us Inc. is stepping into the heated tablet-computer wars with a $150 version for kids — including Wi-Fi connectivity, extensive parental control features and 50 pre-loaded apps that include popular games such as “Angry Birds” and “Fruit Ninja.”
I don’t care about parental controls, or preloaded apps, what caught my eye is the Wi-Fi. This means the tablet can be on the Internet in some way. It might not have a web browser (I don’t know if it does) but it means you can connect your toddler up to the Internet, which is the greatest learning tool ever. Not only that, but it means the child’s learning will be self driven, well before they get to a classroom. More on that in a moment.
The second article is this one from KurzweilAI.
Researchers at the University of Rochester have demonstrated a new, potentially better approach that creates a smart artificial chat partner from fleeting contributions from many crowdsourced workers, Technology Review reports.
When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system, called Chorus, using an instant messaging window, they get an experience practically indistinguishable from chatting with a single real person.
This is a crowdsourced knowledge application. Right now a group of people will still give a better answer to a typical question than a search engine. This may change of course, but this tool is an interesting way of connecting people.
Let’s put the two together. You get a low cost, kid friendly tablet (which will only get cheaper in coming years) which potentially be connected to a crowdsourced answer app. What you have is a device that can answer the biggest kids question of all: Why?
This could be disruptive to formalized education because from a very early age children will be learning that they can get answers to things themselves. This individualism is the opposite of what is taught in a classroom where conformity is encouraged. They will rebel against being spoon-fed information. I see this as being very disruptive.