Big Idea Fest - Hole in the Wall0 Comments
I was fortunate enough to win a scholarship from The Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) to attend the Big Ideas Fest (#bif2010) in Half Moon Bay, California.
This is a four day conference that is trying to cultivate, promote and expand upon some of the most successful and innovative educational projects happening around the world today in some of the 'toughest' educational environments.
This evening, for instance, the keynote speaker Dr. Sugata Mitra of Newcastle University relayed to a crowd of over 200 educators the success he had with his Hole in the Wall computer project in an economically destitute region of India. Essentially Dr. Mitra created ATM-style computer learning kiosks inside a slum community with the intention of finding out exactly what the local children would do to the computers if left to their own devices.
Much to his and his colleagues' surprise, neither the children or the parents attempted to steal or dismantle the computers. Instead, in about two months time, the children were using the computer kiosks to complete their own educational objectives. As the program continued, some of the children from this region went on to learn English and become employees at English-speaking call centers across India.
Dr. Mitra thought he might be on to something given the success with the Indian children, so he brought his methodology back to the British classroom and the outcome of that experiment can be found here.
Essentially, Dr. Mitra is making the argument that if children have interests and are provided with the the proper search/analysis and reading comprehension skills by their teachers, education will happen. He believes that teachers can drive children with skillful questions without ever having to give them the answers because if given the means to research these questions, children will be driven to find the answers on their own.