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Hole In The Wall

Based on the highly innovative and successful experiments conducted in India, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (BA) intends to bring children of the community of Alexandria in direct contact with the electronic world and its infinite possibilities for education and learning. The "Hole in the Wall" project is based on the hypothesis that children learn to use the computer and access the Internet independently through self-learning.

How did it start?
The idea was initiated in India by Hole In the Wall Education Limited (HIWEL), where free Internet street kiosks were provided in rural areas for children who were unfamiliar with computers and the Internet. 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 led to the belief that any learning environment that provides an adequate level of curiosity and motivation can promote learning in groups of children, with no intervention from adults. It was further proven that it is possible to install a computer, connect it to the Internet, and keep it in working condition in any outdoor environment despite heat or dust, etc.

What does the kiosk look like?
The kiosk is especially designed for children and would be practically impossible to be used by adults. The equipment is physically protected against harmful environmental conditions. On the back end of the kiosk, there is a set of computers and sensors to measure temperature and humidity to ensure a suitable operational environment for the equipment. Also, secure browsing is enabled within the kiosks to provide extra security and ensure inappropriate content is inaccessible by the children. Access is restricted to a predefined list of applications, with no access to any other machine resources.

The Egyptian version
A portal holding some interesting sites for children, with games, stories and educational tools was built by ISIS. A prototype of one kiosk has already been set inside BA in front of the Children’s Library and another in the BA plaza. In cooperation with the Governorate of Alexandria, 30 other locations are being selected to establish the kiosks. Moreover, software was developed to track the complete lifecycle of the kiosks and their activities. The software manages all types of environmental data, screenshots and web statistics, captures data sent by the kiosks, stores it in a database, and generates reports. The application will assist researchers by providing a single repository for all kiosk data.

Social and pedagogical studies
This project will be accompanied by social and pedagogical studies analyzing the children's level and ability in exploring computer technology, the interaction of the children with the project, their interests, the extent to which they have learned from this project, etc. The studies will also identify any changes in children's values, moralities and behavior that would result from them dealing with computer technologies; the effect of using computer technology on raising their levels of culture, knowledge, and intellectuality; the most popular computer applications, their usage amongst these children and how to develop them; and how the children would impact their local economic activities after their exposure to computer technology.

The studies also aim to go further and identify how the project will interlink with civil society organizations and other local organizations interested in children affairs. The study will include a survey of the target area and interviews with children and parents prior to and during project implementation, collecting and analyzing demographic, educational, and cultural data pertaining to the target community. A committee for the design of the experiments for social and pedagogical studies has been formed comprising a well selected group of social researchers in Egypt.


Last updated on 05 Nov 2007