Monday, October 10, 2011

Digital literacy for all

Most media focus is on the glitzy new devices rolling off the production lines at Apple, Samsung, Dell and company but we tend to forget that these are virtually impossible dreams for the vast majority of people in the world. Students and pupils in developing countries have no chance of affording an iPad, a Blackberry or a Kindle but they do need to lean the digital skills that will lead to qualified jobs in the future.

That's why it's good to know that there are companies producing affordable devices that may lack the bells and whistles of the market leaders but they provide people with a platform to learn. First there was the One laptop per child initiative that saw Uruguay become the first country in the world to provide laptops for all primary school children and several others have followed. Over 2 million pupils and teachers are now part of the global OLPC project. The low priced XO laptop has now spread to schoolchildren all over the world and is extremely simple, robust and energy-efficient. The laptops have been sent directly to countries' education ministries and have then been distributedto the schools just like textbooks. The result is that several developing countres have a far greater level of digitalisation in schools than many European countries (including Sweden).

There's more good news for affordable technology with the recent launch of an Indian tablet called Aakash (sky in Hindi) that has most of the features of the more famous touch-screen tablets but retailing at only $35-$50. Initial plans are to distribute 100,000 of these to selected university students over the next few months before rolling out fully. For most students this enables them to fully benefit from the educational resources available on the net in a country where standard devices are far beyond a student's allowance.

Watch a TV report on the Aakash tablet from Al-Jazeera.

Here's a report on the story from Newsy videos:

Watch India Unveils $35 Computer Tablet for Students in News  |  View More Free Videos Online at

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