We all know how much technology has changed the way we teach and learn within the education sector but Professor Sugata Mitra has managed to take these ideas to a whole new level. Prof. Anant Agarwai has already set up one online school, known as ‘edX’, where one million students have already enrolled to access a variety of online courses. The content has been shared from around 27 partners at universities, creating a non-profit project that could help poorer countries, who are yet to have formal education, as well as here on home soil.
“Education has not changed in 500 years – we still herd children like cats into classrooms at 9am”, he explained. This model will involve an adult supervisor on the other side of the screen but a lot of it will involve the children having to organise themselves. Thanks to investments from the likes of MIT and Harvard universities, the Prof. Mitra hopes to open five online schools, three in India and two in the UK. The establishment will be a glass pod filled with computers and a large screen for the supervisor to be seen on and have some authority over the children.
When he did a similar project in 1999, Mitra dealt with an influx of interest and children were eager to play games but it eventually calmed down into a great learning tool. For areas where there are no teachers or good teachers available, the cloud school covers the problem whilst using support from some of the world’s top professors. Another part of the project involves “cloud grannies”. Retired people in the UK can connect via Skype to youth clubs over in India and offer activities such as reading a story and this is something that is thought to be incorporated into the schools.
Prof. Sugata Mitra’s talk at the TEDGlobal conference about cloud schools can be found on Youtube.