The case for multi-user design for computer aided learning in developing regions
Computer-aided learning is fast gaining traction in developing regions as a means to augment classroom instruction. Reasons for using computer-aided learning range from supplementing teacher shortages to starting underprivileged children off in technology, and funding for such initiatives range from state education funds to international agencies and private groups interested in child development. The interaction of children with computers is seen at various levels, from unsupervised self-guided learning at public booths without specific curriculum to highly regulated in-class computer applications with modules designed to go with school curriculum. Such learning is used at various levels from children as young as 5 years-old to high-schoolers. This paper uses field observations of primary school children in India using computer-aided learning modules, and finds patterns by which children who perform better in classroom activities seat themselves in front of computer monitors, and control the mouse, in cases where children are required to share computer resources. We find that in such circumstances, there emerges a pattern of learning, unique to multi-user environments - wherein certain children tend to learn better because of their control of the mouse. This research also shows that while computer aided learning software for children is primarily designed for single-users, the implementation realities of resource-strapped learning environments in developing regions presents a strong case for multi-user design.
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