The School in the Cloud
The Emerging Future of Learning
Foreword by John Hattie, Foreword by Class 3G, Belleville Primary School
Corwin Teaching Essentials
Educational Research Methods | Teaching Methods & Learning Styles | Technology
The Science and the Story of the Future of Learning
Educators have been trying to harness the “promise” of technology in education for decades, to no avail, but we have learned that children in groups—when given access to the Internet—can learn anything by themselves. In this groundbreaking book, you’ll glimpse the emerging future of learning with technology. It turns out the promise isn’t in the technology itself; it’s in the self-directed learning of the children who use it.
In 1999, Sugata Mitra conducted the famous "Hole in the Wall" experiment that inspired three TED Talks and earned him the first million-dollar TED prize for research in 2013. Since then, he has conducted new research around self-organized learning environments (SOLE), building "Schools in the Cloud" all over the world. This new book shares the results of this research and offers
• Examples of thriving Schools in the Cloud in unlikely places
• Mitra’s predictions on the future of learning
• How to design assessments for self-organizing learning
• How to build your own School in the Cloud
• Clips from the documentary, The School in the Cloud
Discover the future of learning by digging deep into Mitra’s thought-provoking experiences, examples, and vision.
“This isn’t another book about boring old teachers.”
Sugata Mitra’s new book is arresting. It stops you in your tracks and causes you to think again. Many a good book will encourage and guide; and some will recommend better ways of doing things. This book does all of that and more. It also questions popular convention and provokes you into a new way of thinking about learning.
For example, think of the millions spent on providing enough computers for one student, or at least one device between two students; whereas Sugata shows that children will learn at greater rates if they cluster around large screens, in mixed-age groups and discover together. Or, think of the ways in which ICT teaching carefully plans a step-by-step approach to ensure the ‘right’ thing is studied at the right time, whereas Mitra shows children who are given free and public access to computers and the Internet can become computer literate without the need for a planned curriculum. Perhaps most profound of all, Mitra describes the conditions leading to a Self-Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) in which, contrary to the usual situation in which students cram for a test and then forget much of what they’ve learned once the test is done, the students in his experiments actually knew more when they were given a surprise test months later! As for the ‘School in the Cloud’ idea, the underlying principle is to not teach; instead, have a conversation, raise questions and ask children to work out possible answers—but do not teach!
On reading this book I suspect, like me, you will think the quote will prove prophetic when considering Sugata Mitra’s contribution to education; I just hope that by reading and acting upon the messages herein, we can hasten towards that celebration: “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you.” (Attributed to Nicholas Klein, pp 34)
Sugata Mitra’s long awaited book is not only a documentation of two decades of studies into self-organised learning, it is also an invitation to explore the mind of a disruptor. Mitra deftly traces the history of his projects, offering keen insights into the thinking behind his celebrated Hole in the Wall and Schools in the Cloud experiments. He provides a compelling, personal and at times contentious narrative, replete with evidence that when given the right conditions, children really can learn for themselves. For educators everywhere, The School In The Cloud will be challenging and inspirational in equal measure.
We universally underestimate children. Sugata does not. His life’s work has been to enable children to explore for themselves, using their innate curiosity and imagination. Education is what people do to you. Learning is what you do to yourself. Digital ether allows that latter, as you will see in this book.
Twenty years ago, Sugata Mitra disrupted traditional education by installing a computer kiosk in an Indian slum and inviting children to learn together—without teachers, textbooks, or tests. Lessons from that first Hole in the Wall experiment have informed the global development of what Mitra calls self-organized learning environments (or SOLEs), where children investigate “big questions” by conducting online research. In The School in the Cloud, Mitra doesn’t call for the end of schools or the elimination of teachers. Rather, he shows what’s possible when educators embrace the SOLE model. With data and storytelling, he paints a picture of education that’s sparked by curiosity, enabled by technology, and facilitated by teachers who are wise enough to let children drive their own learning.
Many people profess to know what the future of school will be. These claims are often vague, overconfident, or overly simplistic. Not here. This book is filled with examples, questions, humility, possibilities, and undeniable stories that should make us all uncomfortable with our current ways of thinking about education. This is a must-read for all who want to expand their understanding about learning.
In The School in the Cloud, Sugata Mitra presents learning at its most elemental — a child’s need to know combines with open access to information and gentle encouragement and her potential as a learner takes off.
Readers familiar with high-quality project-based learning (PBL) will appreciate that Mitra’s work gets at the essence of this methodology. And, in its way, his book is the embodiment of the very processes Mitra recommends. In The School in the Cloud we follow Mitra as he identifies an urgent concern (poor access to education), investigates and tries to address it (through internet and “granny” encouragement), and through iteration and improvement, settles on a solution (self-organizing learning environments) we’re lucky he shares with others.
With humor, humility and insights borne from both successes and setbacks, Mitra shares lessons that, at their germ, show how student-centered, inquiry-driven learning can take shape, no matter the context.
For many years Sugatra Mitra has been one of very few saying, and evidencing, that we should properly trust children with their learning. Children saw right away that they needed to know about the past to imagine and then build their futures. So of course they know how important it is to practice imagining. Children don’t need this book; this book is for everyone else.
Sugata Mitra is the standard-bearer for a genuinely 21st century education: one that connects children’s innate thirst and capacity for learning with the massive resource of the internet – and then gets out of the way and lets them run free and grow their minds in the process. Read this book and let your sense of what it is possible for children to do, and become, be expanded beyond your wildest dreams. And join Sugata’s crusading army of angels – for his radical yet practical ideas are opposed by many who have done well by systematically underestimating children’s capabilities.
The Internet provides a seemingly endless resource beyond just consumption. Leveraging years of research Sugata Mitra provides a compelling narrative on how it can empower kids to learn in ways we never imagined. The wisdom and strategies he shares serve as a blueprint to transform education now and in the future.