“We have created a world where kids can learn on their own.”…Sugata Mitra

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“All that I am saying is that a computer will do the same thing for children no matter where it is located. Children can learn to use the internet on their own. Though a computer is not going to replace a teacher, it is going to enable them to learn on their own. The author ran an experiment. He set up computers in slum areas of India. He made them accessible to children. He did not tell the kids what the computer was. This was in 1999. In less than 8 hours the kids were surfing the internet by themselves- self taught. Someone contested that a teacher came by and taught them, so he took the computers in remote parts of India with no computer teachers for miles. In no time, the kids were surfing the net and playing games. The kids told him that they needed faster processors and more memory. In addition, the kids taught themselves English in order to use the computer.

The conclusion was that this kind of learning was happening because the teacher was NOT there. Also, groups of kids in India given access to the internet and left unsupervised for nine months will reach the same level of computer literacy as a trained secretary over the same amount of time in the West. ‘The observer changes the result’…Social scientists started to ask the kids what they are doing when they were playing with the computer and they responded, “Nothing!” and they would stop playing with the computer. So there was no way to understand how the kids were learning so intuitively. We’ve managed to create a world where kids can learn on their own.

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He gave the kids a computer equipped with Dragon transcription. The kids improved their English pronunciation without a human teacher at all. No pedagogy was given, so they invented pedagogy. They downloaded a Webster’s Dictionary that pronounced the word they looked up. So the kids invented pedagogy. They learned mathematics, english, etc without teachers.

He then took a computer and downloaded lessons in molecular biology in English and told the kids that it was an exciting subject that they would never understand by themselves. He did this to twelve year old kids. After two months, the kids said that it was still unintelligible. So he asked them when did they give up. They said they didn’t give up and kept coming back to learn the course. So, he asked them why they kept doing it and a twelve year old girl said, “Well other than the fact that improper replication of the DNA molecule causes genetic disease, we have understand nothing else.”

So, he told a teacher to stand behind the kids and use the ‘Grandmother method” which is admiration. the results went up by 50%. The teacher just commented, “That’s wonderful. How did you do that? I could never do that as a kid. You are a remarkable student. Learning results skyrocketed.

He took the experiment to England. But backwards. The kids in England all had a computer on their desk. He shut the computers down except for one computer for every four kids. So there were groups of kids when around one computer. He created a self organized learning environment. He looked at in physics as a self organizing system. If you have a completely organized system, nothing changes. In the completely disordered state, the same thing happens…nothing changes..only chaos. At the edge of chaos order comes out of chaos. It is called an ’emergent phenomenon’. In other words, not too much structure, not too much chaos. So a few kids around one computer creates an emergent phenomenon where learning grows exponentially.

No matter whether it was a good school, poor school, advanced school, disadvantaged school. He was able to get 30% results in desired learning if the kids were by themselves. So he recruited a bunch of grandmothers by remote access- video/skype etc. These grandmothers taught English to kids in India by the Grandmother method- imitation and admiration.

Evry kid in Uruguay has a computer…in Spanish they read better than kids read English in the US and in England.When a computer throws a page it doesn’t merit it…it gives it no level…if kids read at a level of second grade by themselves,they will be able to read at a sixth grade level if they read in a group. If you allow the edge of chaos to form then the kids will not fail. Kids are doing things at younger and younger ages. Two year olds are learning by themselves. He gave an iPad to a two year old who downloaded a free game on her mothers iPad because she knew if the ‘squiggly lines’ ($$$) were there then it is not free. In other words, the two year old invented her own way of reading.”Is it reading. It is something we can’t describe, but we have to find a way to describe it.”

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Why do we teach the way we do? Maybe the answer

Pedagogy has to improve the internet and not deny it. Give them the internet and let them form groups and they will learn. We make them learn all alone in a examination room. We have to learn as humans do in offices. We have to bring the internet into the examination room, because in life we will solve problems with each other and the internet. if you bring the internet into the examination room, we will see novel and outstanding results. Kids are told to put away their devices when they come into the schoolroom…we have to stop that and allow them to access the internet thru them and increase their capacity and ability to learn.

Give them an interesting problem to solve and give them the internet and leave them alone…this is how we have to approach education…we have to solve problems in groups not alone in an examination room..whatever for…Why is this the best way to end education?…because it was the way offices operated a hundred years ago…if the internet is allowed into the classroom everything will change…paper and pencil…no technology…is the wrong/outdated way to go. (I merely transcribed Mitra’s lecture here.)

If you bring the internet into the examination hall, then the way questions are asked will have to be changed; the whole teaching method will have to be changed; the entire system will be changed top down once the decision is made but someone has to make the decision.

“We are preparing our kids for employers who are already dead!…The way that offices were designed generations ago.”

“Schools in the Cloud”..The New Schools:

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