Anyone perusing this blog might have gathered that I am in love with Sugata Mitra (his work at least). See this post for why...
But it appears, the world loves him too. He has been awarded the TED Prize for 2013 - a cool $1 million presented to social entrepreneurs to make their dreams huge.
To recap (courtesy of ANYA KAMENETZ at FastCompany), "Mitra's Hole in the Wall experiment, begun in 1999 and detailed in this Ted talk, has been on the minds of educational innovators ever since. He provided access to a computer connected to the Internet through a literal hole in the wall of his office in a Delhi slum, and saw how children who didn't speak English--and may have never attended school--taught themselves the basics of Googling information they needed, and even stumbled into interests like genetics.
He later built on the experiment, realizing the importance of creating a "granny cloud" of adults who could encourage and enable children in their self-directed intellectual journeys by asking them great questions, whether or not the adults were themselves subject matter experts.
With the prize, Mitra plans to build a "school in the cloud," essentially a computer lab in India staffed with one adult and open to children 8 to 12 to explore their interests. This will be achieved with the help of retired online volunteer mentors who will Skype in when needed--the "grannies in the cloud." He's also releasing a toolkit for others who want to adopt the setup themselves to create Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) anywhere in the world.
“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," Mitra said.
In the world of education reform, Mitra's work falls squarely on the side of the conversation--along with longtime TED Talk all-star Sir Ken Robinson--that says what schools need most is to enable new kinds of creativity and learner-centeredness, without trying to micromanage the outcomes. The move to create "maker spaces" in U.S. schools equipped with 3-D printers and the like is another example of this line of thinking, which stands in stark contrast to innovators like Sal Khan of Khan Academy, who focuses on enabling students to learn traditional subjects like math more quickly and efficiently, with outcomes measurable on standardized tests."
For full article, click here...
This approach to education is exciting in so many ways - using technology (in yet another way) to bypass geographic and monetary limitation and facilitate both individually
targeted learning and participation by those who may have been marginalised (not least the smart online grannies),
Can't wait to see how this experiment unfolds and what offshoots it will, in turn, inspire.
For Mitra's latest TED talk, filmed February 2013, about what he plans to do with the TED Prize click here...