The Ted Prize 2013 was awarded to Sugata Mitra this week for his incredible experiments with “hole in the wall” computer terminals that were randomly placed in slum areas without any instructions or supervision.
He found that it took no time at all for kids (lacking formal education) to rapidly pick up how this alien device functioned simply by playing around with them. As the project evolved into more slums, reaching more kids with more sophisticated terminals they were continuously surprised how fast these young inexperienced users were able figure out and perform complex tasks just by mucking around for a few hours with friends.
It serves as a true testament to the power of learning by doing as well as the “challenge accepted” Gamification mentality spawned from the mixing of childish curiosity and desire to prove oneself. These two concepts are completely revolutionising education in the 21st century and the way kids (and adults) can be taught around the world.
This all links to an inspiring video I saw circulating on facebook today featuring the vast array of notable tech innovators discussing the power of learning how to read & write computer code. It turns out most of them picked it up by accident in their early teens- just for kicks, to prank or simply as a way to procrastinate from school work. Unbeknownst to them, it allowed them to acquire some extremely powerful transferable skills as well as develop a unique attitude and approach to life that led them to become the great innovators and success stories they have.
So on that note don’t wait- lets start playing [Code Academy] and begin to understand technology instead of simply being mindless users. If we can learn why & how it works, we can start thinking about how to bend the rules.
There is no spoon.
[soundtrack: Do Make Say Think – Horns of A Rabbit]