“Young kids in this project figured out how to use a PC on their own — and then taught other kids. He asks, what else can children teach themselves?”
The results are still being discussed and dissected today, almost 6 years after he first announced and presented his findings. And now Sugata Mitra is back, building on this pioneering work, with his new TED Talk “Build a School in the Cloud” (below).
From this talk I was amazed that not only were children (note: not students, these were children in slums and remote villages who had no access to schools let alone a computer or the Internet) who had to learn how to operate a PC and mouse, as well as a new language (English), before they were able to learn anything that they could find on it!
Sugata opens with the question of “what is going to be the future of learning” before going on to describe what is the problem with the current state of schooling, and where it came from (and why we have it).
“But that’s today – we don’t even know what the jobs of the future are going to look like. We know that people will work from where ever they want, whenever they want, in what ever way they want, how is present day schooling going to prepare them for that world?”
“We need to look at learning as the product of educational self-organisation – if you allow the educational organisers to self-organise then learning emerges. Its not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen. The teacher sets the process in motion and she stands back, in awe, and watches as learning happens.”
Sugata is looking to build SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environment), based on “broadband +collaboration + encouragement & admiration”. A radical and idealistic approach, maybe, but it based on evidence and knowledge and a profound belief in the ability of children and their thirst for knowledge – I know, I can see this in my own children: when they play, when they talk, when they ask about the world, when they find something they’ve never seen or heard before, when something goes wrong and they don’t want it to happen again.
Sugata has a wish, which forms the purpose for SOLE:
“My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”