Sugata MitraProfessor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University
Advocate of Self Organised Learning
‘The Greeks spoke of the oracle of Delphi. We’ve created it’, says Sugata Mitra referring to the Internet. ‘People don’t talk to a machine. They talk to a huge collective of people, a kind of hive.’ This abundant source of collective knowledge is still much neglected in education, Mitra is convinced. In 2004, on stage at PINC.5, he told the audience the amazing story of Hole-in-the-wall. The project in India offered children in underprivileged areas access to computers, without further explanation. Within days the children discovered what they could do with it. One of Mitra’s success stories relates of an 8-year old who started at one of these computers and now holds a PhD.
Mitra developed the project into a learning method for schools, which he called ‘self-organised learning environment’ (SOLE). A class of 20 gets five computers to solve big questions. In no time the children gather amazing amounts of knowledge and insights.
The method is enthusiastically embraced by the educators working with it, but scientific validation is needed to encourage large scale implementation. Mitra, who holds a Ph.D. in physics and is a renowned scholar in information science and educational technology, is now working on that at Newcastle University.