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I’m Not Sure How Effective It Will Be, But Sugata Mitra’s New Online Tool Definitely Looks Interesting

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I’ve previously published two fairly popular posts about Professor Sugata Mitra and his famous “holes in the wall” experiments where he placed computers in impoverished Indian communities and students “self-organized” their instruction.

The first post was one where I shared a number of concerns I had about his work (see Questions About Sugata Mitra & His “Holes In The Wall”) and then a guest post in response from Rory Gallagher. Both attracted many comments — particularly Rory’s — and Sugata Mitra also participated in the comment thread.

Professor Mitra was awarded the TED Prize last year, and expanded his worth with that support.

One of the results is his new site called “School In The Cloud.”

You can read more about it at TED, but here are some excerpts:

Mitra — a professor at Newcastle University — has also pioneered a digital tool, a virtual School in the Cloud Community Platform with the help of core technology and innovation partner Microsoft and their Skype Social Good team. The web platform, launched this week, ensures that anyone, anywhere around the world can experiment with self-organized learning. Made by Many, the product design team, spent six months co-creating the platform with Mitra’s team, Microsoft and children themselves, to ensure that the experience translates across cultural and economic barriers. Essentially, it is a giant global experiment in self-organized learning, inviting everyone to help design the future of learning.

The online platform acts as a one-stop shop for people interested in exploring self-organized learning. It includes an easy tool to start a SOLE and a library of resources showcasing Mitra’s research and the philosophy behind self-organized learning. The platform is also the hub for a network of Skype Grannies — retired teachers who encourage children by asking them the kinds of questions that get them thinking. For those interested in becoming a Skype Granny, or online mentor, the Community Platform guides them through the registration process and prepares them for their role in the self-organized learning environment. Educators and kids can quickly connect online or via text message with a Skype Granny, to embark on intellectual adventures.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the platform is the SOLE session tools. Not only do these tools guide children by posing big questions, their intellectual journey is easily tracked by selecting language, images and videos for a final presentation. It’s this process that sparks curiosity and culminates with a dynamic and critical discussion– all essential skills to prepare children for the future. Educators can also track children’s engagement, confidence and “search skills.”

I’m writing this post late at night after a long day of California High School Exam testing, so I don’t have the energy to fully explore his new site. But it sure looks interesting, and I’ll be looking forward to checking it out further later in the week.

Let me know what you think of it, too….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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