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Author Topic: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction  (Read 1717 times)

app103

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Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« on: November 02, 2012, 03:35:16 AM »
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What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they'll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.

The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell "neighborhood" properly and whatnot isn't a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn't going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.

Rather than give out laptops (they're actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, "hey kids, here's this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!"

Just to give you a sense of what these villages in Ethiopia are like, the kids (and most of the adults) there have never seen a word. No books, no newspapers, no street signs, no labels on packaged foods or goods. Nothing. And these villages aren't unique in that respect; there are many of them in Africa where the literacy rate is close to zero. So you might think that if you're going to give out fancy tablet computers, it would be helpful to have someone along to show these people how to use them, right?

But that's not what OLPC did. They just left the boxes there, sealed up, containing one tablet for every kid in each of the villages (nearly a thousand tablets in total), pre-loaded with a custom English-language operating system and SD cards with tracking software on them to record how the tablets were used.


Renegade

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2012, 05:20:25 AM »
1) Holy crap.
2) This reminds me of what David Icke says about us.
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Daleus

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2012, 06:32:32 AM »
I've often said it - kids are awesome!
Daleus, Curmudgeon-at-Large

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2012, 06:36:01 AM »
I've often said it - kids are awesome!

I forget where I saw it, but there's a study on "creative genius" (or something like that - I might have phrased it wrong - but close enough), and what they found was before kids enter school, they score insanely high -- like ALL kids do (98%). Then, as they progress through school, they lose it. School basically sucks it out of them. By the time they graduate, nobody's scoring jack anymore.
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wraith808

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2012, 07:45:44 AM »
Just for clarification- hack is a bit sensationalist (they enabled the disabled camera).  But still impressive.

(And don't read the comments.  They're depressing.)

Renegade

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2012, 08:16:09 AM »
Just for clarification- hack is a bit sensationalist (they enabled the disabled camera).  But still impressive.

Quote
And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."

It sounds like the camera had been disabled at the OS level, and that they'd rooted it and changed the config somehow. The details are kind of sketchy.

But like you said, still impressive.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

superboyac

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2012, 11:32:21 AM »
If this information is true, and there isn't too much spin inserted (seems to be short on details), then this is both fascinating and amazing. 

40hz

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2012, 11:36:54 AM »
If true, it says one thing to me: the magic is still there. :Thmbsup:

superboyac

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Re: Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 12:03:46 PM »
If true, it says one thing to me: the magic is still there. :Thmbsup:
Damn straight!  I see it all the time, that's why I get so angry when I think about the educational institutions.  This is exactly why i think my portable university idea was a good one.  oh shit...i just got another idea...