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[ba-unrev-talk] Minimally Invasive Education

The famous "hole in the wall" kiosk experiment
http://www.niitholeinthewall.com/    (01)

"On the morning of 26th January 1999, passersby outside the NIIT 
headquarters in New Delhi were treated to an unusual sight. A computer 
peeped out of a hole that had been carved out in the wall that separated 
the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum. As the day wore on, the curious 
onlookers, mostly children living in the slum, approached the computer. The 
TV-like device seemed inviting. First with hesitation and later with more 
assurance, they began to explore. It took the children a few minutes to 
work out the use of the touchpad embedded in the wall. After that, it was a 
series of "hits-and-misses" as they fooled around with the computer. This 
went on for the whole day...and the next...and the next... "    (02)

"Minimally Invasive Education (MIE) is a pedagogic method, and derives its 
name partly from the medical term minimally invasive surgery. The idea of 
MIE crystallized over a period of time based on observations and 
educational experiments conducted at NIIT. It was observed that, even in 
the absence of any direct input, mere curiosity led groups of children to 
explore, which resulted in learning. This, coupled with minimal input from 
peers, or from someone familiar with the situation, helped the children 
learn more. This led us to believe that any learning environment that 
provides an adequate level of curiosity can cause learning among groups of 
children. The children's desire to learn, along with their curiosity and 
peer interaction, drives them to explore the environment in order to 
satisfy their inquisitiveness. As the children explore their environment, 
they relate their new experience with their previous experience and thereby 
new learning takes place. Hence, MIE is defined as, a pedagogic method that 
uses the learning environment to generate an adequate level of motivation 
to induce learning in groups of children, with minimal, or no, intervention 
by a teacher. In MIE, the role of a teacher is limited to providing, or 
guiding learners to, environments that generate adequate levels of 
interest. A known example of MIE is the type of learning that takes place 
when an appropriate puzzle is given to children with little or no input 
from others. Similarly, the Internet has a great deal of material that can 
stimulate curiosity and learning among various age groups of children. "    (03)

"Based on the above assumptions, it is hypothesized that even in totally 
unfamiliar situations, children in groups will learn on their own with 
little or no input from others, provided the learning environment induces 
an adequate level of curiosity. The above hypothesis has been proved in 
experiments conducted at NIIT. In these experiments, free Internet street 
kiosks were provided to a group of slum children who were unfamiliar with 
computers and the Internet. The children learnt to use computers and browse 
the Internet with no formal inputs from anyone. After a careful analysis of 
the experiment and the group dynamics involved, the learning process was 
termed "Minimally Invasive Education". Why call it Minimally Invasive 
Education? Unlike conventional pedagogic methods, there is no formal 
instruction by a teacher or by anyone else. In fact, there is little or no 
intervention in the group learning process. "    (04)

"The results of the experiment have been quite exciting. Within three 
months of opening up of the Internet kiosk, it was found that the children, 
mostly from the slum, had achieved a certain level of computer skills 
without any planned instructional intervention. They were able to browse 
the Internet, download songs, go to cartoon sites, work on MS Paint. They 
even invented their own vocabulary to define terms on the computer, for 
example, "sui" (needle) for the cursor, "channels" for websites and "damru" 
(Shiva's drum) for the hourglass (busy) symbol. By the fourth month, the 
children were able to discover and accomplish tasks like creating folders, 
cutting and pasting, creating shortcuts, moving/resizing windows and using 
MS Word to create short messages that too in the absence of keyboard. When 
the issue of whether the kiosk should be removed from the boundary wall 
arose, the children strongly opposed to the idea. The parents also felt 
that the computer was good for their children. The kiosk continues to be 
operational till today with approximately eighty children are using it per 
day. "    (05)