[Air-l] Fwd: [school-discuss] Self Organising Systems for mass education

Jeremy Hunsinger jhuns at vt.edu
Sun Sep 10 06:35:09 PDT 2006

Here's an interesting set of ideas that might go against some of my  
assumptions in regard to the OLPC project from MIT.  However, I am  
not so sure about the results just yet.

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Knut Yrvin <knuty at skolelinux.no>
> Date: September 10, 2006 3:45:56 AM EDT
> To: schoolforge-discuss at schoolforge.net
> Subject: [school-discuss] Self Organising Systems for mass education
> Reply-To: schoolforge-discuss at schoolforge.net
> By Sugata Mitra, Dean of Research at The NIIT Institute and Chief
> Scientist at NIIT Limited
> * An extract:
> The “Hole in the wall” 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 “hole in the wall”, January 1999, Kalkaji, New Delhi,  
> India
> We found this through a set of experiments conducted from 1999 onwards
> and often referred to as the “Hole-in-the-wall” experiments.
> We found that children given unsupervised access to computers in  
> public
> or play areas would become:
>    1. Computer literate – in their own way, with their own
>        vocabulary, but highly effective nevertheless.
>    2. Better at math and English – I don’t know why, maybe
>        because they learn to analyze and solve problems in groups.
>    3. More social and cooperative – because they learn
>        that knowledge, unlike material objects, grows with sharing.
>    4. More interested in school – if the computer is near
>        or in the school premises.
>    5. Less likely to drop out of school – because they
>        want their computer.
>    6. Less interested in petty crime – mostly because all
>        their free time is spent at the computer.
>    7. Generate local goodwill – 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 world’s
> 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 “playground” computers.
> We found much more effective use of the computers already owned by
> schools—200 children can become computer literate using one playground
> computer—making 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:
>    http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/5865
> The scientific articles:
>    http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/docs/Paper06.pdf
>    http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/Publications.html
> Best regards
> Knut Yrvin

jeremy hunsinger
Assistant Professor
Pratt Institute

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