Back to some TED videos today.
Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology, is well known for his work in Cognitive Science, Information Science and Educational Technology. This talk is about his work with the Hole-in-the-wall experiment.
The Hole-in-the-wall experiment started in 1999. Mitra and his colleagues traveled around India placing a computer and a touch pad in a hole in a wall. The computer either had high-speed internet access or stacks of CDs that could be inserted into the computer. Mitra left the computer alone and just let things happen.
The areas that picked for the experiment were either remote physically, i.e. rural areas, or remote socially and economically, i.e. slums. One of the things that that the experiment want to discover was the effect that educational technology has on children.
Mitra argues that educational technology has more impact on students that are performing at the bottom of the scale than for students who are at the top of the scale. That is, the top students show only small gains whereas the students at the bottom of the scale show much greater gains. Mitra said he was looking for an idea of what an alternative primary education might look like.
What happened was that children came up to what many of them saw as a television and began to play with it. The kids taught each other how to use the computer and how to surf. As most of the content on the internet is in English, the children began learning English so that they could use the computer. This language learning was a communal activity and extended beyond the immediate venue of the hole-in-the-wall to the use of English in other situations as well.
So what are some implications of the hole-in-the-wall experiment?
• Education does not have to be a teacher-centered activity.
• Children can and will teach and learn from each other.
• If children are allowed to express their innate curiosity, they can organize themselves into learning groups.
What do you think about the implications of this research?