Sunday, November 9, 2008

Hole in the wall

Hole in the wall is a very experiment by Sugata Mitra in 1999. I read about this experiment, which showed the innovative capabilities of two kinds of people, the visionaries and the underprivileged.

About Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra has a PhD in physics and heads research efforts at New Delhi's NIIT, a fast-growing software and education company with sales of more than $200 million and a market cap over $2 billion. But Mitra's passion is computer-based education, specifically for India's poor. He believes that children, even terribly poor kids with little education, can quickly teach themselves the rudiments of computer literacy. The key, he contends, is for teachers and other adults to give them free rein, so their natural curiosity takes over and they teach themselves. He calls the concept "minimally invasive education."

The Experiment

He took a PC connected to a high-speed data connection and embedded it in a concrete wall next to NIIT's headquarters in the south end of New Delhi. The wall separates the company's grounds from a garbage-strewn empty lot used by the poor as a public bathroom. He then just keft the computer open and watched the activity happening on a computer and a video camera.

He discovered that the most avid users of the machine were ghetto kids aged 6 to 12, most of whom have only the most rudimentary education and little knowledge of English. Yet within days, the kids had taught themselves to draw on the computer and to browse the Net.

Imagine, if 70 lakh such children get access to the resources needed for education and development, India would indeed be a place full of innovation.

Resources and refernces