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There are many ways to get involved with School in the Cloud, from running your own SOLE to becoming a Granny or carrying out research with us.


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A useful guide to how to run your own SOLE. Our toolkit is free to use and adapt to your own environment through Creative Commons licence.


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School in the Cloud is learning at the edge of chaos; a place to come together to discover and explore self-organised learning (SOLE).


Big Questions


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A great Big Question will get your SOLE off to a flying start, but deciding what to ask is the hardest part! Children love questions with no easy answer.


edna2 Phaltan: two years on it's an international affair

TED Lab - Phaltan

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TED Lab - Phaltan

Phaltan: two years on it's an international affair


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Phaltan

  Location: Australia



Today (3 December 2016) is Phaltan Lab’s 2nd birthday. The Granny Cloud was active at this location for over a year before the lab was set up and today we share this lovely blog from Granny Edna Sackson, who knows the children there well. We find out what happened when her class in Australia linked up with India for some lively sessions over Skype! This summer, she also got the chance to meet the children in person for the first time and you can read more about it at her blog link below.

“Hands on heads. Now shoulders.

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Today (3 December 2016) is Phaltan Lab’s 2nd birthday. The Granny Cloud was active at this location for over a year before the lab was set up and today we share this lovely blog from Granny Edna Sackson, who knows the children there well. We find out what happened when her class in Australia linked up with India for some lively sessions over Skype! This summer, she also got the chance to meet the children in person for the first time and you can read more about it at her blog link below.

“Hands on heads. Now shoulders. Where are your shoulders? Well done!”

This is the first time Jess and Tyler, two Aussie Year 6 students, interact via Skype with preschoolers at Kamala Nimbkar Balbhavan (KNB), Phaltan as part of the Granny Cloud project. The little ones on the other side stare wide eyed at these two strangers on the screen. Who knows what they they are thinking!

On the Phaltan side, the session is facilitated by 13 year old Shruti, whose English and computer skills were enhanced by her own Granny Cloud experiences over a number of years. She confidently guides, encourages and translates as required. This is part of an experiment to introduce this kind of exposure at a much younger age to gauge its impact.

After a while, the children begin to warm up and join in, first one, then another, as Jess and Tyler slowly introduce the body parts and sing the song “Heads and Shoulders, knees and toes’. Their excitement is evident through their muttered exchange of observations in between… ‘Heads and shoulders… the one in white is joining in!.. knees and toes… oh wow look at the little one in the middle!..

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Education | Phaltan

helloworld2 How a TED talk inspired a school in the cloud for Africa, and beyond…

Project Hello World

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Project Hello World

How a TED talk inspired a school in the cloud for Africa, and beyond…


  Author - Guest Blogger

  Partner(s) - Project Hello World



Three and a half years ago, Katrin Macmillan watched the TED Prize 2013 talk by Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, in which he discussed his ‘Hole in the Wall’ research project and stated his ambition to build a ‘school in the cloud’. He wanted to find out if children who have little or no access to education could educate themselves, simply by having access to the Internet. The children exceeded his expectations – and his TED talk became the inspiration and motivation for Katrin to start Project Hello World.

In response to Professor Mitra’s innovative concept of self-organised digital learning,

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Three and a half years ago, Katrin Macmillan watched the TED Prize 2013 talk by Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, in which he discussed his ‘Hole in the Wall’ research project and stated his ambition to build a ‘school in the cloud’. He wanted to find out if children who have little or no access to education could educate themselves, simply by having access to the Internet. The children exceeded his expectations – and his TED talk became the inspiration and motivation for Katrin to start Project Hello World.

In response to Professor Mitra’s innovative concept of self-organised digital learning, Project Hello World developed a solar-powered outdoor Internet kiosk, the Hello Hub. Each Hub is WiFi-enabled and is loaded with educational software and applications. With unlimited access to state-of-the-art technology, children who lack formal schooling have an opportunity to shape their own learning and thereby create a brighter future for themselves, and their communities.

Because of its principles of community engagement, sustainability and open source sharing of its technical designs, Hello World challenges traditional notions of development work. The project has initiated a new approach to learning, with just one goal in mind: to end the education deficit across the globe.

Critical research on the impact of child-led digital learning and the Hello Hubs is still at an early stage. A new and important collaboration between Project Hello World and SOLE Central, Professor Mitra’s centre for research and practice at Newcastle University, will now enable ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of the Hello Hubs and their impact on the communities they serve.

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Something's changed...


  Author - Sarah Cossom



If you’re new to School in the Cloud then you won’t need to read this post, but if you’ve landed and gone ‘Whoa! This looks different…’ then don’t panic! We’ve had a bit of a makeover but hopefully you’ll still find everything you need to support your SOLE journey.

You might notice there are a few things we’ve had to drop, such as the option to launch your SOLE session from the site. Feedback from users suggested that although the countdown was useful, as was the ability to put the Big Question up on the screen, it wasn’t essential.

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If you’re new to School in the Cloud then you won’t need to read this post, but if you’ve landed and gone ‘Whoa! This looks different…’ then don’t panic! We’ve had a bit of a makeover but hopefully you’ll still find everything you need to support your SOLE journey.

You might notice there are a few things we’ve had to drop, such as the option to launch your SOLE session from the site. Feedback from users suggested that although the countdown was useful, as was the ability to put the Big Question up on the screen, it wasn’t essential. We also found children were happiest using Google to search externally.

The Granny Cloud will also have a new website soon, dedicated to this amazing group of volunteer e-mediators, but in the meantime, if you want to apply to be a Granny, please do visit their page on this site.

One of the aims of School in the Cloud is to not only support and inspire the educational community, but also to put you in touch with each other, so please do sign up to Join Our Community (your old login will no longer work – sorry!). We’re working on creating another community online forum where registered community members can connect with each other. There are already many classrooms linking up across continents to run SOLEs together and we’d love to help facilitate more. Feel free to reach out to the community via social media for now.

We hope you enjoy visiting our new site – there are literally 100s of Big Questions and dozens of inspirational blogs to choose from, along with helpful ‘how to’ guides to make your SOLE run as smoothly as possible (but obviously still with a fair amount of ‘learning at the edge of chaos’ for good measure!)

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powered_people_feature SOLE: Technology that’s powered by people

TED Lab - Phaltan

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TED Lab - Phaltan

SOLE: Technology that’s powered by people


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Phaltan

  Location: Phaltan



If I was to go back to school anytime soon, I’d want Arun Chavan as my teacher: he’s intelligent, articulate, inspiring and best of all, not afraid to rock the boat a little.

Now in his third year of a PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Yale, USA, Arun may have come a long way from his home village of Shirgaon, India but he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

It was there that Arun first encountered the Internet as a 12-year-old, placed in a hole in a wall by Professor Sugata Mitra as part of his early experiments into self organized learning.

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If I was to go back to school anytime soon, I’d want Arun Chavan as my teacher: he’s intelligent, articulate, inspiring and best of all, not afraid to rock the boat a little.

Now in his third year of a PhD in Evolutionary Biology at Yale, USA, Arun may have come a long way from his home village of Shirgaon, India but he hasn’t forgotten his roots.

It was there that Arun first encountered the Internet as a 12-year-old, placed in a hole in a wall by Professor Sugata Mitra as part of his early experiments into self organized learning.

Now Arun is taking part in Skype sessions at the School in the Cloud lab at Phaltan, Maharashtra, just an hour from where his parents grew up. Having known School in the Cloud’s research director Dr Suneeta Kulkarni since he was a child, Arun didn’t take much persuading to give something back to the project.

His first session – switching often between his native language Marathi and English – was with a small group talking about all the different birds and trees found around the school.

“The Hole in the Wall seems a very long time ago now,” Arun admits. “I do remember surfing the net and searching for things and that it was all in English – a language I barely understood at the time. I used to copy it down and go back to ask my father what it meant.”

Arun, unlike many of his peers, was in a privileged position as he had educated adults around him who helped to foster his love of learning.

“I was very fortunate that my father was involved in so many things outside of my own village,” he explains.

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first_ted_prize_feature

TED Lab - George Stephenson High School

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TED Lab - George Stephenson High School

Happy 3rd Birthday to the first TED lab!


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - George Stephenson High School



Happy 3rd birthday George Stephenson TED Lab! Time has flown by since the first SOLE research lab opened all those years ago.

We catch up with them in this great video (the lab appears at 2:39mins in, but before and after that there’s the bonus of Sugata Mitra and the Granny Cloud’s Jackie Barrow.) It’s a clip from Pierre Chassa’s 2016 documentary School of the Future, kindly reproduced with permission from Update Productions.

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Happy 3rd birthday George Stephenson TED Lab! Time has flown by since the first SOLE research lab opened all those years ago.

We catch up with them in this great video (the lab appears at 2:39mins in, but before and after that there’s the bonus of Sugata Mitra and the Granny Cloud’s Jackie Barrow.) It’s a clip from Pierre Chassa’s 2016 documentary School of the Future, kindly reproduced with permission from Update Productions.

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einstein_feature Bringing Einstein into education

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

Bringing Einstein into education


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: London



It’s all very well Sugata going into schools, shaking things up and then leaving the teachers to it, but what’s it like from a headteacher’s point of view?

Headteacher John Grove shares his thoughts after Sugata visited his school, Belleville Primary School in Clapham, London, to carry out SOLEs (self organised learning environments) with Years 3, 4 and 5 (seven to 10-year-olds).

“The SOLEs that took place were not quite like the ones we’re used to,” he says. “Sugata wanted to try something a little different and see if the children could answer higher level questions from Science A-Level and GCSE exam papers by working in SOLEs.

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It’s all very well Sugata going into schools, shaking things up and then leaving the teachers to it, but what’s it like from a headteacher’s point of view?

Headteacher John Grove shares his thoughts after Sugata visited his school, Belleville Primary School in Clapham, London, to carry out SOLEs (self organised learning environments) with Years 3, 4 and 5 (seven to 10-year-olds).

“The SOLEs that took place were not quite like the ones we’re used to,” he says. “Sugata wanted to try something a little different and see if the children could answer higher level questions from Science A-Level and GCSE exam papers by working in SOLEs. He had recently conducted the same experiment in Jakarta and Gateshead and we were excited to see how the children at Belleville would fare.”

John says to begin with the children were a little uncertain about their ability to answer an A-Level or GCSE question. However, once Sugata asked the class if they thought they could come up with an answer if they were able to use the internet in groups, they felt a lot more confident!

‘Pure SOLE’

He describes what occurred during the visit as a ‘pure SOLE’. “By this I mean one with an open question, not one restricted to a specific class, topic or theme,” he explains. “It was also ‘pure’ in the sense that the adults did not participate or even tour round the classroom. We try to keep our SOLEs pure – our questions, however, relate to the topic or theme that is currently being covered by the class and are usually done at the beginning or the end of a topic or unit of work.”

All classes involved in SOLEs at the school consist of around 30 pupils,

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Schools | Teaching

SOLE inspires teenager to follow her dreams


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: Mumbai



Gouri Ajay Chindarkar was one of the first children in India to experience SOLE, in her village in Maharashtra. Seven years later, she’s studying for a degree in Computer Engineering at Mumbai University.

The 19-year-old says SOLE has played a ‘big part’ in making her life easier. Researching and quickly understanding any subject comes naturally to her and she is also able to communicate confidently with people from all walks of life. “In my opinion it is a better way to learn,” she says. “SOLE gives us very practical knowledge which can be used for our day-to-day life.

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Gouri Ajay Chindarkar was one of the first children in India to experience SOLE, in her village in Maharashtra. Seven years later, she’s studying for a degree in Computer Engineering at Mumbai University.

The 19-year-old says SOLE has played a ‘big part’ in making her life easier. Researching and quickly understanding any subject comes naturally to her and she is also able to communicate confidently with people from all walks of life. “In my opinion it is a better way to learn,” she says. “SOLE gives us very practical knowledge which can be used for our day-to-day life. It is the perfect place for those who want to learn in their own way and better their understanding.”

Gouri is in the 2nd year of her degree, which she tells me is ‘going very well’. She’s not sure exactly what career path to take when she graduates yet, but is considering working as a developer, testing and designing programmes.

Unlike in the UK, where recent figures show just 14% of students on computer engineering degrees are female (there are similar issues in the US), on Gouri’s course it is nearly a 50/50 split.

“I was interested in computers from my childhood and very early I decided that I want to become a computer engineer – when I was about 12/13-years-old,” she says. “SOLE is the main platform that helped me a lot to come close my dream.”

Granny Cloud sessions

The first SOLE at Shirgaon was set up in 2009 with the main emphasis on Skype sessions with e-mediators – the newly formed “Granny Cloud”. The main problem the children faced initially was language, as all their lessons were in Marathi but the Internet and the Granny Cloud sessions were in English.

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Computer Engineering | Granny Cloud | India

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