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Posted: 13 Sep 2012

EAIE delegates encouraged to consider the possibilities offered by self-organised learning environments

Given access to a single computer with internet access, groups of children can learn anything by themselves, according to Professor Sugata Mitra, Newcastle University and visiting professor to MIT.  The Indian educationalist gave the keynote lecture at the EAIE 2012 conference at the national convention centre in Dublin today.

Prof Mitra is renowned for his 'Hole in the Wall' project involving children in the Delhi slums in 1999 that inspired the book Q&A which became the movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

In 1999, Prof Mitra placed a high-speed computer in the wall that separated his air-conditioned 21st-century office from a slum in Delhi. He connected it to the Internet, and watched to see who - if anyone - might use it.

Prof Sugata Mitra talks to GOOD Magazine about how his Hole in the Wall project helped poor children in the slums of Hyderabad, India teach themselves English.

Curious children were immediately attracted to the computer.
"When they said, 'Can we touch it?'" Mitra recalls, "I said, 'It's on your side of the wall.' The rules say whatever is on their side, they can touch, so they touched it."

Within hours and without instruction, children began browsing the Internet and teaching themselves how to use the computer.

Mitra replicated the initial ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiment in other settings, each time with the same result.
He told EAIE 2012 Dublin conference delegates:

"Groups of children can learn anything by themselves as long as they can search for information, read and understand that information, and know how to believe."

In his lecture he outlined the results of one of his recent projects which showed that groups of children given access to a computer with an internet connection were capable of learning the 'computer literacy of an office secretary' in less than 9 months.

Professor Sugata told several thousand conference delegates that the job of educationalists is not to have all the answers but rather to have all the questions because the trigger of the self organised learning environment is the question.

University College Dublin is the University Partner of the EAIE 2012 Dublin.


(Produced by UCD University Relations)


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Mitra keynote asks EAIE delegates to trigger self-learning environments
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