In 1999, Sugata Mitra – now Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastlle University in the UK, was working in Delhi when he had a crazy idea.
The complex in which he worked was surrounded by a slum and he wondered what would happen if he embedded an internet-enabled computer in the wall of the complex at kid-height, so that the children running around outside could reach it? Would the children ignore the computer? Break it up? Or – most unlikely of all – would the children learn to use the computer? (Preposterous notion given that these were slum children who hardly ever went to school, never saw the internet and didn’t speak or read English)
So – what do you think happened?
Have a look for yourself.
P.S. – Fun fact – when Vikas Swarup read about Sugata Mitra’s experiment he began to think about slum children educating themselves and was inspired to write Q&A – the novel that was adapted to become Slumdog Millionaire.