Sugata Mitra in this TED talk, explains the results of some fascinating studies he conducted in the area of education technology.

His ideas and findings are remarkable and inspirational. Best of all, he explains his findings through great story telling and humour.

Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, you will find this talk to contain some great insight to how you can help you child or students learn.

Hole in the Wall Experiments

The story begins with an introduction to the ‘hole in the wall’ experiment. This is an experiment that Sugata Mitra conducted where he installed a computer kiosk with high speed internet in remote Indian villages.

What he found was that, regardless of the children’s unfamiliarity with language or computers, children could learn quite quickly to use computers and the internet to do whatever they wished to do. Quite impressively, he describes how he has been able to successfully replicate the experiment across different parts of the world, from India to South Africa to Cambodia.

In an extension of his hole in the wall experiment, Sugata arranged for an experiment where he left a group of Tamil speaking students in southern India with the instruction to learn what they could about bio-technology. Equipped with computers containing english-language bio-technology information, the students had two months to learn what they could.

Having tested the students before the experiment, he found that they all had no knowledge on the subject (scoring 0%). After two months left alone with the computer they managed to remarkably score 30% in an exam.

He found that the students worked together in small groups to understand the material. Some students took on the role of being the teacher and also the students looked to get help on the topic by asking a local accountant for help.

As a follow up, Sugata Mitra had the local accountant it take further and employ the ‘grandmother’ method of standing behind the children and admiring their work and getting them to explain what they had learnt and to show their knowledge. At the end of this experiment the children’s exam score increased to 50%.

The talk continues on covering a range of further experiments that build upon his finding in the deployment of educational technology.

Using the SOLE toolkit

There are some fantastic insights that parents and teachers can apply from Sugata Mitra’s work. There is a wonderful SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environment) toolkit that has been developed that teachers and parents can use to organize lessons along the same lines as Sugata Mitra’s experiments.

The toolkit provides an overview of what you need to run a lesson, the mindset that needs to be applied, a lesson plan, some fantastic sample questions, and even a troubleshooting section.

Key lessons for parents and teachers:

There are some great ideas that parents and teachers can easily apply.

Tap into your child’s sense of wonder by posing big and interesting questions. Did dinosaurs really exist? Why aren’t there any mammals bigger than a blue whale?

When your child is able to find the answer to any question through the internet, there is no need to provide them an answer. You can provide the best support through encouraging your child to look into the question and having your child re-count what they have learnt.

Children learning in groups can be a powerful experience if it occurs right. Being with a group of peers enhances the learning experience as discoveries are discussed between children. This helps recall of the information and lets children develop their social skills.

If you are interested in participating in getting involved with SOLE you can do so via the School in the Cloud.

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