TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra is at the forefront of a new approach to education which challenges how we teach today’s children in a technological age. He was previously Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, UK a Visiting Professor at MIT in the US.
Using funds from his TED Prize, Sugata has recently built seven ‘Schools in the Cloud’, where Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) and a ‘Granny Cloud’ of mediators (mostly retired teachers) over the Internet interact with unsupervised children. The School in the Cloud is learning at the edge of chaos – a community, place and experience to discover and explore children’s learning as a self-organising system.
In 1999, Sugata and his colleagues at NIIT made a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in Delhi, installed an internet-connected PC, and left to see what happened. Almost immediately, children from the slum began playing with the computer and in the process taught each other how to use it and get online. It challenged some of the key assumptions of formal education, demonstrating that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity could result in learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge.
Following 20 years of study and experiment with children in England and many other countries, Sugata discovered something quite startling: children with access to the Internet can learn anything by themselves and provide answers to complex, multidisciplinary problems. And central to this process is the children’s abilities to speak, deliberate and engage with their peers, not dissimilar to what happens in today’s workplace.
Are we beginning to see some glimpses of what schools should be for and what curricular, pedagogic and assessment changes will be required in the future? “Examinations as we know them will have to go”, Sugata says. There is a desperate and long overdue need to discuss what policies, strategies, processes and changes government should be considering in order to prepare for a world where Artificial Super Intelligence will dramatically alter the way we work, play and live together. This will require radically new approaches to the way we do education.
"Learning is the new skill. Imagination, creation and asking new questions are at its core." Sugata
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