Friday, July 26, 2013

School in the Cloud

Sugata Mitra spoke today at a large, fancy local private school and I was excited to get a chance to see him speaking here.  Having seen his TedTalks about the "Hole in the wall school" and the "School in the Cloud" I was curious to hear how he might talk to a hometown crowd.  When I got there, I realized it was also largely a student audience.  As Fulbright teachers (and as guests of Akshar's head and principal) we had the fancy front row seats with the white chair covers and the red ribbons.  It's treatment that I've come to expect here, and going home will be a return to, well, reality.

Mitra's premise is that students can learn on their own with technology, and the latest iteration is that students in groups with online support and guiding questions can learn on their own. Rousseau's Emilie comes quickly to mind, and Montessori isn't far behind.  I'm struck, however, by the movement here away from the radical, nearly Romantic conception of learning back toward the center in his new version.  Now, students get guidance from adults and with questions.  Moreover, they meet together in public communities to do the work.  He still largely dismisses the role of teachers, although he doesn't want to quite come out and say it.

I also discovered that he's working with schools in Calcutta including Akshar creating SOLE periods- basically small groups working online in small groups to answer questions.  According to the teacher who's doing it, the purpose is to teach students internet research skills.  That's certainly a more modest goal that suggested by his original talk which implied students could come to understand genetics and DNA. 

No comments:

Post a Comment