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Professor Sugata Mitra

Speaker Summary

Professor Sugata Mitra is a true visionary and undoubtedly the world’s #1 expert on digital learning. Sugata became a household name for his 1999 “Hole in the Wall” experiments, where an internet-connected PC was placed in an urban slum in New Delhi for children to use. The results sent ripples across the world, even inspiring the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. A true ‘Global Education Superstar’ as titled by The Times, the impact that Professor Mitra has directly had on the lives and learning of millions of children everywhere will reverberate throughout history.

Areas of Expertise

Cognition – Memory – Educational Technology – Equity and Inclusion – Digital Learning

Full Profile

Professor Mitra is a multi-award-winning author and educational theorist. He currently resides as Chief Scientist and Professor Emeritus at the National Institute of Information Technology in India. Sugata was Born in Calcutta in 1952. He earned his PhD in Solid State Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology. For the next 30 years, he would remain at the cutting edge of science and technology, creating seminal work in the fields of energy storage systems, computer networking and human biology.

Professor Mitra is also a renowned cognition and memory expert and an inventor. His research into the structures and mechanisms of Alzheimer’s revolutionized our perception of the disease, and he was among one of the first people to invent a hyperlinked computing environment, several years ahead of the internet.

He is most famous for then taking this knowledge of digital environments and applying it to learning outcomes in some of the world’s poorest areas in the 1999 “Hole in the Wall” experiment. The Internet-connected PC was placed in a slum and made freely available for children to use. With no prior experience of computing or any guidance, these children picked up enough basic computing skills to begin using the internet for their own learning, and indeed the learning of their peers. This paradigm-changing work led to the creation of the form of learning called Minimally Invasive Education, as well as the rapid expansion of the project in dozens of other areas around India.

Among a gallery of accolades and awards from the international education and science communities, Professor Mitra is the recipient of the prestigious Dewang Mehta award from the government of India for Innovation in Information Technology in 2003. He also received the 1-million-dollar TED Prize in 2013 to continue his dream of creating a global digital learning environment for children.

In 2006, Sugata brought the results of his work to the UK and patented Self-Organised Learning Environments, which are now used across the globe. He continues to demonstrate that children, irrespective of who they are, or where they are, can learn to use computers and take control of their own learning if they are given the opportunity and the freedom.


A brief selection of Sugata’s ground-breaking work includes:
1) The School in the Cloud: The Emerging Future of Learning (2019)
2) The Future of Learning (2016)
3) The Hole in the Wall: Self-Organising Systems in Education (2006)

Also speaking at the Summit: