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[school-discuss] Self Organising Systems for mass education
By Sugata Mitra, Dean of Research at The NIIT Institute and Chief
Scientist at NIIT Limited
* An extract:
The âHole in the wallâ experiments
Groups of children can learn to use computers on their own, irrespective
of who or where they are.
Groups of children, given access to shared, publicly accessible
computers in playgrounds and other public areas, will teach themselves
to use the technology on their own.
The original âhole in the wallâ, January 1999, Kalkaji, New Delhi, India
We found this through a set of experiments conducted from 1999 onwards
and often referred to as the âHole-in-the-wallâ experiments.
We found that children given unsupervised access to computers in public
or play areas would become:
1. Computer literate â in their own way, with their own
vocabulary, but highly effective nevertheless.
2. Better at math and English â I donât know why, maybe
because they learn to analyze and solve problems in groups.
3. More social and cooperative â because they learn
that knowledge, unlike material objects, grows with sharing.
4. More interested in school â if the computer is near
or in the school premises.
5. Less likely to drop out of school â because they
want their computer.
6. Less interested in petty crime â mostly because all
their free time is spent at the computer.
7. Generate local goodwill â parents like the idea that
the child is learning something and not creating trouble at home.
It took us five years of rigorous measurements across the Indian
subcontinent to verify these results amongst 40,000 of the worldâs
poorest children. Almost half of them, girls.
The data based outcomes showed:
* Acquisition of functional computer literacy
* Improvement in academic performance
* Increase in confidence and self-esteem
* Increased collaborative behavior
Apart from data-based findings, there is consistent anecdotal evidence
of large-scale impact on school enrollment, retention, concentration,
attention span and problem-solving ability.
To keep computers working in, mostly, outdoor environments, we had to
design several pieces of hardware and software. In five years a design
emerged that is reliable and low on maintenance. The design is
resistant to vandalism and undesirable adult access. Interestingly,
both vandalism and adult access is automatically low in public places
where children are present. We were also able to design software to
remotely monitor all activity at these âplaygroundâ computers.
We found much more effective use of the computers already owned by
schoolsâ200 children can become computer literate using one playground
computerâmaking it an effective and affordable method.
Without adult intervention or supervision, 40,000 village children
experimented with computers and software to acquire an enduring
understanding of the information age.
The news article:
The scientific articles: