A Bright Spot

In contrast to some of the recent stories we've posted here which have tended to focus on the negative sides to technology, here is one that may inspire a few people. A group of researchers has been putting up free, unmanned Internet kiosks in "economically backward parts of India." Children living in slum conditions, most of which had never seen a computer before, taught themselves and each other to use the computer and surf the Internet.

"Within three months of opening up of the Internet kiosk, it was found that the children, mostly from the slum, had achieved a certain level of computer skills without any planned instructional intervention. They were able to browse the Internet, download songs, go to cartoon sites, work on MS Paint. They even invented their own vocabulary to define terms on the computer, for example, "sui" (needle) for the cursor, "channels" for websites and "damru" (Shiva's drum) for the hourglass (busy) symbol. By the fourth month, the children were able to discover and accomplish tasks like creating folders, cutting and pasting, creating shortcuts, moving/resizing windows and using MS Word to create short messages that too in the absence of keyboard. When the issue of whether the kiosk should be removed from the boundary wall arose, the children strongly opposed to the idea. The parents also felt that the computer was good for their children. The kiosk continues to be operational till today with approximately eighty children are using it per day."

And that's not all bad.


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