Presented at the CRIDALA 2000 conference, Hong Kong, 21-25
Minimally Invasive Education for mass computer literacy
Centre for Research in Cognitive Systems
New Delhi 110 016
In two experiments conducted in India, PCs connected to the Internet were provided on
the roadside and turned on without any instructions or announcement. In both instances
it was seen that the acquisition of basic computing skills by groups of children was
achieved through incidental learning and some minimal (human) guidance.
This paper reports the observations and compares the two experiments, suggests steps to
further the experiment and discusses the new pedagogy. It also suggests a methodology
for replicating the experiment.
Use of the Internet is spreading rapidly in India, as it is in the rest of the world. While the
users in India are, almost entirely, restricted to the affluent in metropolitan areas, it is
more than likely that demand for the Internet will eventually arise throughout the entire
country. In this context, there are many apprehensions from academicians and others that
the ability to access and the quality of training provided will hinder the usage of Internet
in the subcontinent.
We think this may not be true and report the results of an experiment in Internet and
computer usage using a “minimally invasive” (we borrow the term from surgery!)
approach to learning.
The ability to access the Internet is one of the most important factors in the use of
computers today. In many forums held on the subject in the Indian Subcontinental region,
We have found people questioning the utility of schemes that rely on the Internet. The
argument proposed is that there are too few people in the region who have access. In my
opinion this argument is not a good one for deciding on whether or not to start activities