Mitra gets $1 million for ‘school in the cloud’

Sugata Mitra once put a computer in a hole in a wall in an Indian slum and let street kids teach themselves to use it.  Now a Newcastle University professor, Mitra won the 2013 TED prize — worth about $1 million — to develop what he calls School in the Cloud, reports Time. “In nine months a child left alone with a computer would reach the same standard as an office professional in the West,” Mitra said in after accepting the prize.

Mitra’s Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) are designed to capitalize on children’s curiosity. He plans to hire “a global network of retired teachers who Skype into ‘classrooms’ all over the world but especially in the most remote and underserved areas” to help groups of children learn. It’s the “granny cloud.”

“The role of the mediator is to ask the right questions and listen to the children bragging about what they did,” Mitra says.

. . . “The model is you have eight children and one computer. Not one computer per child,”  he says. And although he seems to advocate a very hands-off approach to teaching, he did say that his method would be supplemental to traditional schooling, not a replacement. ”There are going to be 10 different ways to teach the next generation. I have touched the tip of the iceberg of one.”

His Self Organizing Learning Environment toolkit can be downloaded for free.

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