Do you remember the first time when a landline hand-set arrived at your home? As a child, I remember, it was an incredibly exciting moment for me! I don’t think I had to be even taught as to how to use or dial a number on it!
Now, when I see my child getting pro-actively engaged with the electronic devices of this generation – Smartphones, Tablets or iPads; it invariably reminds me of my childhood. Of course, there is a ‘chalk and cheese’ difference between the two eras but there exists a basic similarity of intrusiveness and exploration about new gadgets.
Not to mention, children nowadays are much smarter, sharper and quicker at picking up on things. Whether it is about operating the latest model or exploring the digital content in it, they need not be guided in any way! They are lightning fast at it!
Have you ever wondered why is it this way with a child? What is their approach and what do they exactly think?
I am certainly not an expert in this field but the points that I am about to mention are purely based on my personal observations with my kid and with the experience I have had of working for my organisation.
Here they are:
Evolving minds: Children these days show a natural adoption to mobiles, tabs or laptops. They have a natural affinity to use these devices.
This probably is because as human beings we are evolving. We are becoming adaptable and inquisitive with each passing generation. Adapting to new processes felt like rock-climbing tasks for us whereas children now are more than excited to examine, enquire, bring up issues or embrace modern processes quite spontaneously.
Into the details: It is amazing how children these days not only use these devices but are also very fond of getting into the details.
For example, even a 2 year old knows all the conventional and as well as all the shortcut ways of going from one tab to another on a mobile screen. The degree of observation has gone so high that they need minimal discretion at their end. When they see us do it, they are super quick to learn and adopt.
Fear-free minds: Children have minimum fear manifested in their heads.
As they do not have any past experience of damage or destruction of the devices in their hands, they aren’t hesitant to experiment. Rather it is we, the adults; who at times keep restricting them at various levels with the fear that the device might get damaged or run out of order!
In the Rural Sections
This part of the article actually intrigued me to develop this entire write-up!
For all the work we have been doing with govt schools and NGOs, the very genesis of that was an insight we had developed while talking to rural children.
We realised that a 5 year old kid in the rural most part of the country was also very comfortable in using the smartphone. When we used to ask them what they do on their phones, their answers back then had amazed us. They said they use whatsapp to share videos and songs and play games like Angry Birds, Temple run etc. Pubg, I had come to know, has now become very popular.
This was amazing. Because we thought these were engagements of the urban kids.
With no major supervision or lead, they had learnt all on their own when they could merely access the device.
What can be derived?
Giving it a deeper thought, we will realize that we already have a base ready. We only need to channelize it in a proper way.
Although e-learning has started to shape-up, it yet has a long way to go. With the pandemic and the NEP2020 occurring, there surely has been an extra boost to the momentum of digital infrastructure.
While this will give a boost to efforts of bridging the digital divide, to all of us, it also presents an amazing opportunity to leverage the familiarity which students have with touch based devices to completely transform the way they learn and grow.
That’s because easy-to-access digital learning content especially in local languages is still a long-drawn factor.
And while bridging the digital divide is a long term journey, there are kids who need a digital divide immediately now, because many of them aren’t able to attend their online classes and therefore unable to continue their learning.
I would like to end by mentioning very briefly about my organisation’s efforts. And if you know of similar efforts, products and organisations, please do reach out to me. Would love to learn more and create wider awareness.
So here’s what we are doing:
Old mobile phones can be very easily converted into a learning phone and be given to kids of your house helps, driver, society and office staff. We read a blog on it and have given a step by step process on how to do this.
Give a read to this: Convert your old mobiles into new Learning Devices
We launched a mobile app called the iDream Learning App which facilitates access to a rich repository of digital content of all types like videos, projects, assessments and books. Students can choose to learn in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Oriya, Gujarati.
You can download the app from this link: Learning app