Sugata Mitra, an educational scientist, uses internet technology to prove that children without exposure to formalized education can use the internet to learn on their own without prompting. In Mr. Mitra’s research, natural human curiosity emerged in children exposed to a computer with broadband internet access and kids who had never seen a computer before taught themselves basic computer literacy in a day. Perhaps the most interesting experiment highlighted by Mr. Mitra was the task given to Italian children – Dr. Mitra had Italian children answer questions in Italian that he posed in English. The children simply copied the text into Google, had Google translate the text to Italian and were able to answer the questions successfully. Mr. Mitra also uses the ‘Granny Cloud’, a network of volunteers who facilitate learning via Skype. Just imagine if the ‘Granny Cloud’ could be the ‘Mentor Cloud’ where volunteers with specialized knowledge facilitate learning of advanced subjects to anyone in the world.
- So, what could learning look like if instead of rows of desks facing a teacher in a classroom, we filled community learning centers with high-speed internet, tablet computers, and access to amazing volunteer mentors via Skype? Perhaps we’d get a revolution in learning at a fraction of the cost of our current educational model.
- Is the ‘cloud’ the key to breaking out of the ‘drill and kill’ model of education? Given access to the internet, broken into groups, and supplied with mentors, could children make better decisions about what is important to learn and what is best left for Google and Wolfram|Alpha?
- Does a real language barrier even exist now that content can increasingly be translated right in the cloud? And doesn’t this open up the world’s libraries of information to everyone, regardless of who or where they are? Can’t we leverage this to enhance learning in regions where teachers do not and will not go?
- Considering that Edison and Einstein both failed at institutionalized education, can cloud computing help to reach our current-day innovative thinkers in a way educational institutions cannot?
Gina Clifford Gina is an Content Marketing Manager for a large tech company and a TEDster. She's a mash-up of physics, entrepreneurship and industrial engineering and loves to write about the intersection of business, technology, and humanity. In her spare time, she enjoys organizing TEDx events and delving into quirky technology projects with her preteen son.