[Fwd: [Fwd: Review of Edubuntu for families]]

Quim Gil qgil at desdeamericaconamor.org
Fri Dec 9 06:50:09 UTC 2005

Hi Daniel & co,

En/na Daniel Robitaille ha escrit:
> Of course Edubuntu is for families :)   Right now my 6-year and 3-year
> old have started testing it on the home family PC (the 1-year old
> still has few years to go before his beta tester time).

This is partly because computers in general but GNU/Linux particularly
have also few years to go before beta testing their capacity to be a
tool for non-literate children.

Alright, facing directly the challenge to become a tool for a 1 year old
baby can be too complex for now (I'm father of a baby of precisely this
age). But... how far do you need to go to be able to press the "on"
button in the box (skip password protected login) and reach your desktop
with some challenges for you to be clicked (no double click, no relevant
words, huge pointer, huge icons, simple applications doing just one or
very few but very remarkable things).

I mean, my one year old baby has a hobby that consists of playing with
the buttons of our old HiFi system. In some months (he started early) he
has got to know that there is a relation between the big wheel and the
volume of the music, and he furiously likes that button in that corner
that alternately brings out and hides the plastic support for the CDs.
He knows that there is a button with an orange light that makes all the
lights to turn off and precisely these days I think he is investigating
with the feature of pressing again this button to turn all the lights on
(he is being distracted by the apparent bug/paradox of the plastic not
appearing/disappearing when lights are off - I give him a couple of
weeks to guess what is actually happening).

In the meantime he knows what to press in our home wireless phone in
order to make the tone sound louder through the speaker, he knows that
he needs to arise the hand with the remote control to try to switch on
the tv (as his parents do with the DVD control, because it's half hidden
 and not easy to establish infrared contact)...

Don't you think Katja and me are a couple of nerds wanting our kid learn
all the current information technologies at a time. This never should
have happened, according to our first time parents plans. This is the
result of "accidents": one day leaving open the door of the low cupboard
where the HiFi leaves, another day forgetting the wireless phone or the
remote control on the carpet...

When sitting in my lap occasionally when I'm reading pending emails, he
already knows he needs to beat on the keyword and he puts his (generally
wet) fingers in the touchpad as well. Just because this is what his
father and his mother do, of course. He still doesn't feel any
correlation between what he does with the fingers and what he sees in
the screen (although my chat colleagues can notice already when Quim
Kurt is around because of the sudden changes in my spelling).

And you may say: is it a need for a kid to learn to play with computers
before they get into reading and so? Well, my response to this question
sitting alone would be No. But in the context of our neighbourhood where
very young kids know already how to turn on the TV and stay in front of
it zapping for... (hours?) I fear our child gets also this habit even
when at home we only turn on the TV after dinner, generally when he is
already sleeping. Not to forget that in most neighbours homes next to
the TV leaves the video console, that only requires to be turned ON and
be manipulated with a device that looks to me much more complex than a

In this context my thoughts (right or wrong) go on the direction of
concluding: these kids in our neighbourhood spend hours in front of the
tv mainly because they see their parents and friends doing so. But my
partner and me don't do this. Instead we work from home with computers
and this is something our son sees everyday, even if we want to hide it.
Should we wait until he has 4 years or so, not being able to play hours
with a tv or console because his parents don't want, and not being able
to play with a computer because computers are not ready for him?

Luckily he loves balls, books and all the analogical things you know
children like. But still I think that my son is more ready for computers
than computers are ready for my son.

Edubuntu could play a role tuning this relationship. Imagine a
Doo-bee-doobuntu flavour able to run in the old computers the parents
leave when buying a new one these days; able to be operated with a
joystick or console command, where a keyboard is not a requirement but
an extra feature; with a GNOME theme with huge & flashy icons on it
(Cairo will be a great base for this) and a collection of the best free
tools and games thought for the ones in the house so creative they don't
even need the constraining use of writing words to express themselves.
Developing a first and second generation of these simple tools should
not be a big obstacle for the free software community, where more
hackers are becoming parents every year, and vice versa. Remember what
you did with a turtle walking on a screen 20 years ago.

We could provide a second, younger child to betatest in a near future...  ;)

Quim Gil - http://desdeamericaconamor.org
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