Kids teaching themselves

Yesterday, we talked about how Quest to Learn, a New Yorker school, was using video games and a ludologic curriculum to engage kids into studying. Today we have this interesting video featuring Sugata Mitra, Chief Scientist at NIIT. In 1999, Dr. Mitra executed his idea of, throw a hole in a building’s wall, make computers with internet access available to a slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi. No formal training whatsoever was provided to children and adults who passed through that area. Children started playing with it almost immediately and, after some weeks, they seemed to have mastered the computer, all by themselves. Also, children who had learned faster began teaching the rest of them, transforming their individual knowledge in a social knowledge.

One of the most intriguing things about this result is that kids learned how to use computers merely by using them. Computers back in 1999 weren’t nothing like a video game, which generally demonstrates or explains how to play. No, back in those days, probably on Windows 1995 [1998 was too new] or a equally not very user friendly OS, the computer booted and that was about it. Figure it yourself, you slum child who probably had never used any sort of technology gadget. And yet, they figured.

That’s why Dr. Mitra suggests that kids can learn whatever they want to learn, and not what is forced onto them. But his results make me wonder what could occur if engaging content also [but not only] embed by technology was provided to children… Something like yesterday post, but not only media orientated.. Oh well, we can talk about that later.

After this successful experiment, Dr. Mitra repeated the hole-in-a-wall in other locations and set up different projects.