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

radhika gajjala radhika at cyberdiva.org
Sun Sep 10 06:45:29 PDT 2006

Such projects are always written up with a great deal of celebration.

I have seen other reports of the hole in the wall project - and 
needless to say it looks interesting and wonderful when taken fully 
out of context.

Of course the utility of computer literacy for a particular kind of 
global world (with it colonizing undertones) is 
unquestionable.Somewhat like "learning English" was in previous 
decades (still is) in the so-called "developing world"....

but is just "computer access" the goal?
what does it mean to be computer literate in specific contexts?

What is context in this case?


>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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Radhika Gajjala
Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator
School of Communication Studies
302 West Hall
Bowling Green State University
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