Many South Africans have never interacted with a computer before and the majority of children are growing up in an environment characterized by low levels of computer literacy. Today, Information Communication Technology (ICT) and basic computer skills are pre-requisites in all professional and many semi-skilled jobs and are becoming increasingly important to basic survival in the world. The Digital Doorway initiative is aimed at better understanding and addressing the computer literacy needs of users within South Africa and Africa (Smith et al., n.d). A project called Minimally Invasive Education was recently established in India by professor Sugata Mitra of NIIT. In this project, experiments called “Hole-in-the-Wall” were conducted where Pentium computers connected to the Internet were provided on the roadside and turned on without any instructions or announcement. Mitra was interested in observing the behaviors of people in a technologically disadvantaged area when exposed to a computer. He observed that users generated their own terms for a number of commonplace computer terms. He also observed that despite never having interacted with a computer before, children were very quick to master basic computer skills. In these experiments, Mitra tested his hypothesis that: the acquisition of basic computer skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning, provided the learners are given access to a suitable computer facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance (Mitra 2001). Based on the success of the “Hole-in-the-Wall” experiments in India, a similar project was started in South Africa by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The project adopted the name “Digital Doorway” and the first site was launched in the rural community of Cwili, in the Eastern Cape in December 2002. A second site was established in Mamelodi an urban township north of Pretoria in the Gauteng province in June 2004. The Digital Doorway project set out to confirm that children and adults could teach themselves how to master basic computer sills, merely by having free access to a computer and being allowed to explore and try out things on their own, without formal training.
Dissertation (MEd (Computer Integrated Education))--University of Pretoria, 2008.