Interview With An Educator: Sugata Mitra
On visiting Edinburgh for a lecture on his work, he agreed to give an interview with the Ragged University. We sat down in the grounds of Edinburgh Napier University in view of Craiglockart hill and talked. In the interview he talks about the surprising results and what he is doing to develop these self directed learning scenarios in the UK and other places. He discusses the findings more clearly and what his vision of the future of education and technology might hold.
Since the 1970s, Professor Mitra’s publications and work have stimulated training and development of hundreds of thousands of young Indians, helping to develop the capabilities of some of the poorest children in the world.
The trajectory of his work brought him to be interested in early literacy, and whilst in New Delhi, he developed what came to be known as the ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments. He took the idea of placing computers in slum areas neighbouring where he worked as a program developer. The question he asked was whether people who had no experience with computers would find a way of using them.
The computers were bricked up into a hole in the wall, and at first he spent time waiting for people to use them. He got no success, and he eventually found that people – specifically children – would use them but only if there was nobody there to ‘show them’ or gatekeep. Observing that the children learned very powerfully in the self directed environment, he extended his study by placing computers in remote places where people had no experience of computers at all.
Some of his papers:
Limits to Self-Organising Systems of Learning: the Kalikuppam Experiment
Self Organising Systems for Mass Computer Literacy: Findings fromThe ‘Hole in the Wall’ experiments by Sugata Mitra
The Self Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) School Support Pack.
Sugata Mitra – Professor of Educational Technology
David Leat – Professor of Curriculum Innovation
Paul Dolan – Teaching Fellow in Technology Enhanced Learning
Emma Crawley Year 4 Teacher, St Aidan’s Church of England Primary School