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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: 


Best regards

Knut Yrvin