“Hole in the wall”- Cognitive Learning. 

“Hole in the wall”- Cognitive Learning.



Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England. He is best known for his “Hole in the Wall” experiment, and widely cited in works on literacy and education. He is the Chief Scientist, Emeritus; at the for-profit training company NIIT. Sugata Mitra stated the concept of the “Hole in the wall” theory and later “school in the cloud”.

The School in the cloud is a platform launched in 2014 TED conference to help the educators – be it a teacher, parent, guide to accelerate their own SOLEs.  A SOLE is a self-organized learning environment, which is facilitated with a computer, internet connection and the students who will meddle with it, and learn by their own.  SOLE sessions are characterized by discovery, sharing and limited or minimal intervention of a teacher or a guide.
In 1999, the Hole in the Wall (HIW) experiments in children’s learning was first conducted. In the initial experiment, a computer was placed in a kiosk (open place) in a wall in a slum at Kalkaji, Delhi and children were allowed to use it freely without any interference.

The experiment aimed at proving that children could be taught by computers very easily without any formal training. Mitra termed this Minimally Invasive Education (MIE). The experiment has been repeating since then and has resulted extremely beneficial. This work demonstrated that groups of children, irrespective of who or where they are from, can learn to use computers and the Internet on their own with public computers in open spaces such as roads and playgrounds, even without knowing English.
Before we delve into the core of the theory, let me share my own theory “something in a hole”. I guess I was eight, when my father brought something for my elder sister. later I came to know that something was a computer, which gives output on giving some instructions (input). I went to the room, as I creped through the hole and found a square shaped or something that look quite similar to the colored TV. I had a glance at it and I started to meddle with it but couldn’t get any response. The next day I observed my sister, who was intruding and poking it baldly like anything and I observed through her every finger. When she left the room, I started to intrude in the same way, my sister did. I learnt to turn it on following the hierarchy – main switch- ups- cpu and then monitor. I intruded and meddled with it by every passing day and I learned more than unexpected without any guidance, not even by a minimal human intervention.

Similarly, “hole in the wall” experiment works. Let me give an example, if a boy learns to drag the mouse of a computer, another boy will be able to browse the things and rest of the children who will be watching them will learn in the same manner and will continue till they master it. In this manner children will continue to learn without any human intervention. The another example we come across in our daily lives is; we do have small kids at home. What I have observed is, small children are always fond of these inventions be it a computer, smart phone or any other gadget. We often observe them meddling up with these gadgets and observe them playing with it as they have learned from the womb of their mother. They are so prone to these gadgets that sometimes they even teach their fathers,  which leave them with an amusing face and puzzled mind. I have a nephew who is 4, a year ago he told me ‘maamu’ just open your ‘SHARE IT’ App and I need to share this game, I laughed so hard for almost 10 minutes and I kept thinking, kid of 3 is knowing how to share the App 😱 —— I confirmed from her mother, how can he share Apps, did you teach him?  No…. ………. He does these things on his own, even I learn from him. So, is the case with “hole in the wall theory”. Children can learn on their own without any guidance when left with these gadgets. They will learn by so called – CHAID CHAAD.

#Mitra suggested this would lead to “unstoppable learning” through a “worldwide cloud” – where children would pool their knowledge and resources in the absence of adult supervision to create a world of self-promoted learning.
In a Wired magazine article, it was claimed that a 12-year-old child – Paloma Loyola Bueno – who lived in a Mexican slum, topped the all Mexico Maths exam after her school teacher, Sergio Juarez Correa, implemented Mitra’s teaching method in the classroom. It was also suggested that her class went from 0 to 63 per cent in the excellent category on the Maths exam while failing scores went from 45 percent down to 7 per cent and may have improved on other parts of the test.

Even, I was not aware about this theory, when I had something in my room but I too learned as the learning of the “hole in the wall” theory suggests.


Hole-in-the-Wall Learning Stations were installed in diverse settings, the impact of interventions was monitored and data was continually gathered, analysed and interpreted. Careful  assessments were conducted to measure academic achievement, behaviour, personality profile, computer literacy and correlations with socio-economic indicators. The research has been both qualitative and quantitative.


Community Survey – Delhi Government Report
The community believes that Learning Stations are beneficial for children.

  • Evaluation was done by Delhi Government at Madangir, Delhi.
  • The Learning Station was set up in November 2000 and the evaluation done in July 2004.
  • The study was done on 248 respondents from the members of local community.

Overall – National Summary
Across the nation, children with access to Learning Station show improved academic scores.

  • The study was conducted at a national level across 17 locations in 8 states.
  • The duration of the study was 9 months.
  • Control Group comprised of children who did not have access to the Learning Station.
  • While the performance of experimental group improved, that of control group actually declined over the period.

Correlation with Educational Facilities

Communities with lower levels of educational facilities gain as much, and often more, as communities with higher levels of educational facilities.

  • The study was conducted at a national level across 17 locations in 8 states.
  • The duration of the study was 9 months.
  • Change in Mean relative score refers to the change in Computer Literacy scores for a community over a 9 month duration of study.


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