Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

Thoughts and deeds

Beyond…2008

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Sugata Mitra

Remoteness correlates with decreasing quality of primary education.

  • Why? No other factors correlated except
  • “Would you rather work somewhere else?”

Business process outsourcing industry – a belt c. 100km outside Delhi

  • satellite townships outside Delhi
  • land costs more than manhattan, costs are like the developing world – because salaries have been driven up by competition
  • need to keep prices down forced the outsourcing industries further outside Delhi.

At 200km, every teacher wants to be elsewhere

  • correlates with poor standard of primary education

But there are also bad schools in the city

  • prompted a redefinition of ‘remoteness’ as ‘areas where people don’t want to work’
  • Confirmed by studies from the US
  • Training aggravates the problem, enabling a brain drain to the cities

Alternatives are needed

  • where shcools don’t exist, aren’t good, where teachers are not available or good enough.
  • Improving the teachers is not going to help

Educational technology

  • developed for markets
  • should be developed for the underprivileged first

Hole in the wall – Kalkaji

  • New Delhi sprawling urban slum outside the boundary wall of an IT Training company
  • SM put a whole in the wal, embedded a touchpad, monitor, internet connection
  • 3 ft off the ground – attracted 8-13yo children. He wasn’t watching – visited every 4 hours

QUestions

  • does lang matter, did anyone teaching, will the computer last, is this real?

Repeat in Shivpuri

  • assured that nobody had taught anybody there anything for a long time
  • staked out in a car with a long zoom lens. Film
  • 43 deg, 2.32.
  • 13 yo school dropout – never seen a TV where you can do something. Accidentally clicked. 8 minutes later he was intentionally browsing. He described the pages as channels.
  • By evening about 70 children were browsing
  • boss said that $50 of instruction had happened and looked very grim

Big question was English. To what extent was the foreign lang implicated in progress

Madantusi repeat (near Lucknow, sheep reaering)

  • no internet – lots of CD material
  • More girls used the compute rthan in the city. None of the adults. Women at a distance and watched
  • After 3 months, SM returned. THey asked him for a faster processor and a better
  • He asked how they knew they replied you have given us a machine that works only english, so in order to use it we learnt the language. This is typical until 13. They were using 100 Eng words with each other, pronouncing them in a southern american drawl from an American Anatomy CD.

SM got funding to prove that this was universal. 5 years. 23 repeats across socioeconomic, ethnicities, geographies

  • asking whether the educational effects were the same
  • reengineer a computer to withstand outdoors, high temperatures, low temparatures. Hardware to sense a hang and reboot. A rollback for the desktop

Repeat Himalayas, 19k feet dry cold,; Almora, deciduous and cool; Rjastan desert, hot and sand; Kisanghat; Sankhda; central India – Banda corrosive open air, humid; Kalse, Talawde etc. Control and experimental groups, computer literacy test

Conclusions

  • Groups of children can learn to use computers and the internet on their own irrespective of who or where they are.
  • At 14 the children say “we are poor” we’re from a developing country” “how can we possibly do anything”
  • They have to be in a safe public place that they associate with free time and play. If they’re in shcool the girls say their mothers tell them not to go into a closed room at all
  • 200-300 children share on computer effectively to become computer literate in 3 months – one operator, 3 advisers, 12 discussants and erring advisers. At 8 learning by watching is as good as learning by doing – maybe because 8 year olds are told not to do as many things as they are told to do things.
  • Costs 1.5p per child per day.

Hyderabad

  • Poor children go to private schools to learn ENglish, but the teachers speak with strong south indian accent and cannot be understood
  • struck sm as a direct case for tech intervention (why didn’t he intervene with the teachers?)
  • Trained dragon dictate for RP pronunciation

There must be a limit to the self-organised education

Kalikuppam – southern india, tsunami’d – clean slate. No school, nothing. Parents mostly illiterate

  • Can Tamil-speaking children learn biotechnology in English on their own?
  • Pretest
  • 2 months later sm returned. The children said they learnt nothing. He asked How many times did you look at the material? Every day. He then asked again if they understood “Apart from the fact that defects in the reporduction in the DNA molecule can cause genetic disease, we understood nothing”
  • Posttest

Gateshead England

  • in one school every child has a laptop. 8 year olds
  • children asked to divide selves up into any size group, each group to use only one laptop. they worked through 6 gcse questions using google
  • they chose each group of 4. only one group couldn’t solve it – this was because 3 boys absented themselves
  • teacher queried whether learning had happened

Consequences

  • Changes in aspiration. Prospective fisherwoman who is now studying aeronautical engineering and attributes this to hole in the wall
  • inclusion in educational curricula – self-organising
  • many remote locations

QUestion

  • Rose Luckin’s “one laptop per village” project in Kenya.

MV

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Written by Mira Vogel

April 4, 2008 at 12:34

Posted in event

Tagged with , ,

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