I have speculated that in order to have learning take place you need just two things:
1. A person who wants to learn
2. A source of information they can learn from
The role of a teacher in today’s public school classroom is many fold but much of it isn’t related directly to learning.
I have also maintained that teachers will be replaced by machines in a lot of learning contexts, and I also said we might start to see this effect in Africa and places where there isn’t an existing education machine infrastructure. (see How The Crucible Of Africa Could Change The World Of Education)
Well here is an amazing story that contains all of those elements. (H/T Technology Review via Gizmodo). It is a recent report from the One Laptop Per Child project.
The experiment is being done in two isolated rural villages with about 20 first-grade-aged children each, about 50 miles from Addis Ababa. One village is called Wonchi, on the rim of a volcanic crater at 11,000 feet; the other is called Wolonchete, in the Great Rift Valley. Children there had never previously seen printed materials, road signs, or even packaging that had words on them, Negroponte said.
Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 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,” Negroponte 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.”
That’s just amazing! They are learning computer skills, problem solving, creative thinking, teamwork, internet search skills, and language.
That my friends is learning in the 21st century.