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26 February 2024

Cloud-based schools changing education

By Sneha May Francis

Sugata Mitra is professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England.

“Our current system is training clerks. We have to change it if we don’t want to make people like machines,” said Mitra.

He talked about his experiment where poor children were given access to technology and what they would do with it. “Children, who did not have access to the Internet, were browsing it without any trouble. Within weeks, they were downloading. And within a month they were googling.”

“I have done a series of experiments on how children learn through the Internet. I still don’t know how they do it. It is not who told them. It’s what was told to them.”

“The Internet does not know these children…  The children don’t know that they are accessing a lot of information.”

“This whole process is helped by an adult who is not a teacher. I devised a granny cloud – it’s a group of retired teachers, whom I can skype into far away places. Where they don’t teach. They just talk, and the children begin to change. It is simple. It is effective.

“Driving a learning spiral using admiration.

“Children can learn anything if the teacher is absent.”

“There’s the problem of assessment.  I looked at the origins of this system. A photo of an office in 1910 shows a room full of clerks, who file ledger after ledger without asking questions. We don’t need them.

“Those jobs don’t exist. It is outdated. The world that we are preparing our children for has changed.

“It is not about reforming exams. If you have to, then change exams to something else.

“The education system is in denial.”

“In future, assessments should have open-ended questions. We need automated systems to evaluate open-ended questions… it’s open for research.

“I look to physics for an answer. Under certain circumstances, chaotic situations show spontaneous order.

“When we see children cluster around the Internet, if we give the right question, they create a spontaneous order. You have to allow spontaneous order in schools.

“When you look at your phone you are learning constantly.”

“If you allow the Internet, you don’t get a moron.”

“If you surround children with obsolete stuff from the 19th century, then they will be bored. Writing… how many kids will write in the future?”

“Internet has to be taught as a subject in school. Internet must permeate the education system.”

“Students will deal with the answers, not with the questions.”

“If are faced with a problem, use the Internet to find the solution. If we have reached that we have reached the future.”

“I ask educators to allow use of the Internet during examinations. Imagine what that would do.”