Remember the Hole-in-the-Wall experiment in India? Based on the principal of “minimally-invasive pedagogy,” computers were installed in kiosk walls in Indian slums so that children could teach themselves about technology. Though the organizers of the project have published a series of very positive reviews over the years, until now I am not aware of any independent reports on the project and its results, other than my own discussion based on a visit to one of the sites.
Now, an article by an independent researcher has appeared, reporting some interesting findings. It turns out that the two Hole-in-the-Wall sites that she visited both stand in ruins, one closed down within a few months of its opening due to vandalism, the other surviving until it became inactive. According to the article, while the broader Hole-in-the-Wall project still exists, it has evolved from its earlier approach of eschewing relationship with community organizations, schools, and adult mentors, and has now “started to focus more on the building of ties with the school, particularly in regard to using the teachers or others in the local communities as mediators in learning.” This is a welcome change and reflects the important realization that mentorship and institutional support are important if children are to learn effectively with technology.