In 1999, Sugata Mitra, Professor of Education Technology at Newcastle University, England, and his colleagues tried a dipstick experiment in teaching. They installed a computer in a wall in a busy slum in New Delhi. Next thing they knew, the computer with online access was being mobbed by neighbourhood children tapping away at it. In no time, the children had learnt how to use it and surf the internet, and their lack of familiarity with the language or the interface did not stand in the way of their learning.
In another incident, Prof. Mitra asked some children if was possible for one thing to be present in two places. The nine-year-olds sat on the computers in groups and threw back the phrase ‘quantum entanglement’ at him. When asked what that meant, the children explained the process to him, using threads.
On the basis of his assorted case studies, Prof. Mitra concluded: “If given access to public computing, children in groups could go from zero computer literacy to that of an officer or secretary in the West in nine months.” This self-learning model, which came to be popularly known as ‘holes in the wall’, intrigued Prof. Mitra enough to develop innovative teaching methodologies.
At an IIT Bombay institute colloquium talk on ‘Future of Learning’ on Thursday, he said it was possible to achieve an objective without leadership, but with desire that’s common to a group. From this insight, he developed SOLE, or Self-Organising Learning Environment, which works on three premises: take whatever you are going to teach and convert it into a big question, pose it to a group of children in a setting that has fewer internet-enabled computers than children. No method is prescribed or proscribed.
Read the full article on The Hindu.
published on: 19 October 2016