As promised here is another instalment from the World Educational Leadership Summit and is certainly something that we can develop at ISHCMC. This post will cover the presentations made by Sugata Mitra and focused on Self Organizing Systems and Schools in the Cloud.
Prof. Mitra’s talk summarized the findings from 15 years of experiments with self-organized learning by children, unsupervised and with access to the internet in public spaces. He explained the key findings from these experiments and how they led him to the concept of Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs) and the use of teachers over the internet (The Granny Cloud). Prof Mitra’s talk links SOLE’s to designing ‘schools in the Cloud’, a learning facility where children can take charge of their own learning. Following his TED million dollar award, that allowed him to design and construct 7 experimental ‘schools in the cloud’ facilities – 5 in India and 2 in England. He described the activities within these facilities and what teachers and researchers have observed. His final provocation was to discuss what ‘learning’ and ‘schooling’ might mean in the future.
This TED talk provides an excellent background for the ideas that he discussed at the summit.
Some key points from his presentation and research from India, UK and Uruguay that add a bit more to the TED talk:
· What is a self-organizing system? It is not self-directed education, it links aligned to chaos theory and relies upon the appearance of order out of disorder.
· That the traditional passengers can be the drivers if left alone to work by themselves.
· Not about making learning happen but letting it happen.
· Students will develop their own pedagogical methodology to solve the problems they incur in their problem solving.
· Children working collaboratively raised reading comprehension by over two years.
· Children will remember the material they have uncovered for longer than students who are taught the material by teachers.
· Positive encouragement by adults increased the students learning, “when I hear the voices of my friend, it makes me feel relaxed.”
· Students learn much quicker and more deeply when left alone.
· Random browsing led to increased scientific computation.
· Schools in the Cloud are more effective when built inside an existing school.
· Having noisy children doesn’t mean that they aren’t learning.
· Reduction of resources can amplify learning – “collaboration is the key”
· We should convert all curricular topics to unknown big questions to capture the imagination and motivation of students
His major conclusion was that student motivation is killed by archaic assessment. The assessment model used today was created when schools produced compliant workers, clerks for offices and labourers for factories. Today this is not the case. Even if it was, a modern office involves collaboration and access to and use of technology. Prof. Mitra suggests that we should “allow internet into the examination hall and that will change everything.” Problem with our assessment system is that it is not measuring the right things because teachers are forced to assess the wrong thing because of national curriculums and standards, and consequently they then do the wrong thing in their teaching”