Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Computers and Education

My recent post, Home Computers: Help or hindrance in education, focused on research that shows the detrimental effect of home computers on academic performance.

Now compare that to this TED presentation. Incredible research. Here's a brief description, but I highly recommend watching the presentation. Wow! Homeschoolers, especially of the unschooler variety, would definitely agree with his premise of "minimally invasion education."

In 1999, Sugata Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.

In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education."

So why was there such a big difference in the two studies on the influence of technology? The first thing that pops into my head is the social aspect. Use of a computer for solitary entertainment has a far different effect than computer use in a social context working on a joint endeavor.


education said...

Your article will help others to know that education is not for rich person.It is also meant for those poor children who are interested in learning something.Providing education among poor will also decrease the illiteracy.

Luke said...

I think you've hit on an important distinction: What is the goal of the technology? If it is merely there for entertainment, it's no surprise it's not as effective as a learning tool [smile]. Of course, I would also argue that a tool designed solely for the purpose of education is less effective than an entertaining tool that provides learning opportunities...