The power of play: Touchscreen apps teach kids their letters

Youth Skills

The power of play: Touchscreen apps teach kids their letters

Kids teach themselves the alphabet using tablets.  Photo: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/olpc/2884605787/in/set-72157608680464156”> One Laptop per Child (Flickr)</a>
Kids teach themselves the alphabet using tablets. Photo: One Laptop per Child (Flickr)

Give a kid a tablet and they’ll teach themselves to read.

Thousands of children live in areas with uneducated adult populations, making it hard for kids to receive an education. When One Laptop Per Child left a box of tablets with no instructions in a rural Ethiopian village who had never seen a computer in their lives, much less a book, they were amazed at the results.

We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte reported.

OLPC’s other experiments have shown that children will use laptops to teach their parents skills. For rural areas, these results could overcome some challenges in finding qualified teachers.

Secondary Department: 

Curated news and insights about innovative, market-driven solutions to poverty explored through news, commentary and discussion.

Learn more »

Global Envision newsletter