(Photo from Reader’s Digest)
In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.
In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."
The TED talk is here.
The blog is here.
I am in awe at how cool this. How about this as a solution for pastoralist education in remote Southern Sudan? Can you begin to imagine how the world will look when NGOs are handing out $100 iPhones to kids tending cows in cattle-camps, and there is free global wi-fi access?