At the Amazon Web Services Summit in Canberra today, Buttonwood Cloud Exchange are encouraging visitors to ‘Create a Cloud Hero’ and donate to Tech2Kids. If you’re at the event, drop by their stand and show your support. Buttonwood are one of our supporting organisations, and the AWS Summit is a great opportunity for Tech2Kids to get in front of some of the key technologists in Australia.
The traditional view is that children need a formal training process to be able to use technology successfully, but an ad hoc experiment by an Indian physicist might suggest otherwise. Dr Sugata Mitra believes that even poor, illiterate children can teach themselves the basics of computer literacy with the barest minimum of assistance. He describes this as ‘minimally invasive education’, and credits the children’s natural curiosity with allowing them to teach themselves.
Dr Mitra installed a PC with an internet connection in a ‘hole in the wall’, adjacent to one of New Delhi’s poorest slums, and allowed anyone who passed by to play with it. He quickly found that the most frequent users were children aged between 6 and 12, who had only the most basic education and no knowledge of English. Within days, they had taught themselves how to draw and browse the net.
Kate Dukes’ recent article in The Age highlighted the inequity between indigenous and non indigenous Australians and their access to technology. Kate found that indigenous Australians are 69 per cent less likely to have any internet connection. A research project carried out in conjunction with Deakin University found that internet kiosks installed in remote communities were predominantly accessed by children.
Wikipedia defines the digital divide as ‘an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies (ICT)’. At Tech 2 Kids, we see it more simply as the gap between kids that have access to technology and kids that don’t. Internet access is beginning to be considered a human right, in the same vein as clean water, electricity and safe housing. Children that don’t have regular, unfettered access to technology and the services that it supports tend to be those that are already disadvantaged, and this further disadvantage can make a significant difference.