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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.


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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The Big Question

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Sleep - Posted by Mohammad Reza


  Author - Mohammad Reza

  Location: Iran



What happens when we sleep?

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What happens when we sleep?

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Dreams | Sleep

SOLE: A Parent's View


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: UK



Something’s changed in our house recently… internet use by my children is fractionally less gaming and on-demand tv and more educational. There’s been an internet revelation and I think that’s down to SOLE being used at my children’s school.

Unlike my generation, today our children are surrounded by constant online connectivity and like many parents I worry about the detrimental effects of continual access to the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an internet luddite, in fact I love the internet, but I do worry that my children aren’t using it effectively. One barrier is that from an early age we,

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Something’s changed in our house recently… internet use by my children is fractionally less gaming and on-demand tv and more educational. There’s been an internet revelation and I think that’s down to SOLE being used at my children’s school.

Unlike my generation, today our children are surrounded by constant online connectivity and like many parents I worry about the detrimental effects of continual access to the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an internet luddite, in fact I love the internet, but I do worry that my children aren’t using it effectively. One barrier is that from an early age we, rightly so, teach our children about the potential dangers of the internet but we don’t necessarily teach them how amazing the internet can be when used safely. My husband and I are great at modelling how to use the internet for managing the mundane aspects of our lives – banking, utility bills, grocery shopping – hardly inspiring stuff, so it’s no wonder that all our boys used the internet for was gaming and tv where they are “safe”.  But recently there has been a slight shift towards a more enriching use.

My 10 year old son, Arthur, has a fascination with the  natural world, in particular Space, which he shares with his grandfather. There is a constant email stream between the two of them and to my delight Arthur can now be regularly found searching through the NASA and ESA websites looking for answers to questions posed by his grandad, relishing when he teaches his grandad something new. For me it has also been lovely watching their relationship grow (and who’d have thought that the internet could facilitate that?) SOLE talks about its Cloud Grannies but don’t dismiss all the Cloud Grandads out there.

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Education | Parents

mexico2 SOLE = Socratic Method 2.0

SOLE Mexico

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SOLE Mexico

SOLE = Socratic Method 2.0


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - SOLE Mexico

  Location: Mexico



Since the last time I spoke to SOLE México’s co-ordinator Oscar O’Farrill several years ago a lot has happened.

To be honest, I’d be surprised if great things hadn’t been achieved in the interim as it was obvious from Oscar’s passion and drive in the previous blog, that SOLE México was destined to make big waves in education.

For one, they’ve trained over 160 teachers. “It’s been exploding like crazy – it’s been amazing,” says Oscar. “There are now 11 people in the team where before it was only me!  We’re now working in several states in Mexico and I’ve been able to see how SOLE works in public schools,

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Since the last time I spoke to SOLE México’s co-ordinator Oscar O’Farrill several years ago a lot has happened.

To be honest, I’d be surprised if great things hadn’t been achieved in the interim as it was obvious from Oscar’s passion and drive in the previous blog, that SOLE México was destined to make big waves in education.

For one, they’ve trained over 160 teachers. “It’s been exploding like crazy – it’s been amazing,” says Oscar. “There are now 11 people in the team where before it was only me!  We’re now working in several states in Mexico and I’ve been able to see how SOLE works in public schools, elementary, high schools, teacher training – all over.”

SOLE México secured a state contract for training 100 teachers from extreme rural communities (including the middle of a jungle) and are now carrying out a follow-up programme where they visit each of the schools to help the teachers make SOLE an ongoing process.
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Oscar says the importance of a follow-up to teacher training shouldn’t be under-estimated. “SOLE in theory is great, but to take it over a school cycle where many teachers want it focussed on their curriculum and expect regular evaluation, you have to design it around great Big Questions,” he explains.

“We’ve found that one session each week is not enough,” adds Oscar. “To me, SOLE is like Socratic Method 2.0 – basically going to the roots of the knowledge, sharing it and looking for it. Before they had only themselves and the teacher but now we have thousands of years of knowledge easily accessible through the Internet.”

From his experience, it can take several months to fully integrate SOLE as both students and teachers get used to a new way of learning.

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Mexico | Rural Communities | Schools | Teacher Training

How to make SOLE more social


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: Isle of Man



Helen Moyer hates the word “teacher” despite the fact she’s been one for seven years.

“I remember teachers from my own school days standing in front of the class just relaying facts and I never wanted to do that,” she says. “I want to create an atmosphere where the children see me as a learner as well and SOLE is perfect for that. It’s completely changed the way I teach.”

Williston School, where Helen works, is also a supporter of P4C (Philosophy for Children), which she finds aligns well with SOLE principles. For the past few years they have been working towards letting the children own their learning,

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Helen Moyer hates the word “teacher” despite the fact she’s been one for seven years.

“I remember teachers from my own school days standing in front of the class just relaying facts and I never wanted to do that,” she says. “I want to create an atmosphere where the children see me as a learner as well and SOLE is perfect for that. It’s completely changed the way I teach.”

Williston School, where Helen works, is also a supporter of P4C (Philosophy for Children), which she finds aligns well with SOLE principles. For the past few years they have been working towards letting the children own their learning, embracing new technologies and pedagogical approaches.

Being on the Isle of Man (which is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland – pictured below) means educators enjoy more freedom to experiment than most: they have their own government, no OFSTED inspections, and can create their own curriculum.

“We’re pushing boundaries all the time and the difference SOLE has made has been incredible,” says Helen. “It’s created a level of curiosity and an ability to share their learning collaboratively which is nothing short of amazing. It’s like the love of learning has been re-ignited within them.”

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Helen was first introduced to SOLE three years ago when one of the IT staff returned from a conference where Sugata Mitra was speaking and suggested they try it out.

But the first few attempts weren’t exactly a success. “It was complete chaos and I thought ‘what on earth am I doing?!’” says Helen.

One of her challenges was the amount of high level needs pupils she had in her class, with dyslexia and autism especially prevalent among the students.

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Isle of Man | P4C | Primary School | Social SOLEs | SOLE | Teaching

Long distance friendship is the perfect medicine


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: Hyderabad



Most trainee doctors are driven by a desire to help others, but for Shahrukh Khan, his motivation is also deeply personal.

He was just six-years-old when his father died of a heart attack in India. Many years later, when he had only just begun his degree studies in the Philippines, he lost his mother in the same way. It was at this point that Shahrukh decided to become a surgeon or cardiologist.

It has been a long and complicated road to reach the point he is at today – just two years away from becoming a qualified doctor.

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Most trainee doctors are driven by a desire to help others, but for Shahrukh Khan, his motivation is also deeply personal.

He was just six-years-old when his father died of a heart attack in India. Many years later, when he had only just begun his degree studies in the Philippines, he lost his mother in the same way. It was at this point that Shahrukh decided to become a surgeon or cardiologist.

It has been a long and complicated road to reach the point he is at today – just two years away from becoming a qualified doctor. When he was just 13-years-old, he met someone who, although neither of them knew it at the time, would change his life. That person was retired teacher Liz Fewings, who was Skyping in from her home in London, UK to his school’s new computer lab in Hyderabad, India.

Eight years on, she can still recall their first meeting. “The Granny Cloud session had been arranged through Suneeta (Kulkarni) and I was expecting a group of kindergarten children,” she explains. “I had prepared to read Jasper’s Beanstalk and had my trowel and seeds and everything ready when suddenly in walks a group of teenagers! Suneeta was laughing like a drain but I went ahead with it anyway – they seemed quite happy!”

Shahrukh was put in charge of organising his 9th grade group, which didn’t really take off, but he and Liz continued to talk to each other. He made the most of any opportunity to be part of this early self organised learning environment (SOLE) to improve his English and general knowledge skills.

medium_c954397b-38bb-4e36-8e65-c28a60d93376Shahrukh in the Philippines today

When he was looking to study for a degree,

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Doctors | Grannies | Granny Cloud | India | Medicine

How do we remember and why do we forget?


  Author - Guest Blogger

  Location: Dallas



Sugata Mitra, founder of School in the Cloud, posed an intriguing question on You Tube: How do we remember and why do we forget? His question was more than just a question. It was a Big Question, and it kicked off Skype in the Classroom’s Big Question Challenge in 2015 — an opportunity for select educators around the world to submit their own Big Question videos which students then answered by forming SOLEs.

Rebekah Davis, a teacher in North Carolina, says her students used self-organized learning to answer Sugata’s Big Question and “surprised themselves with how much they were able to learn in such a short amount of time.”

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Sugata Mitra, founder of School in the Cloud, posed an intriguing question on You Tube: How do we remember and why do we forget? His question was more than just a question. It was a Big Question, and it kicked off Skype in the Classroom’s Big Question Challenge in 2015 — an opportunity for select educators around the world to submit their own Big Question videos which students then answered by forming SOLEs.

Rebekah Davis, a teacher in North Carolina, says her students used self-organized learning to answer Sugata’s Big Question and “surprised themselves with how much they were able to learn in such a short amount of time.” Here’s some of their results:

medium_aaf7c347-1331-4e97-a4eb-eda032ff041c

Elisa Farrell, a third grade teacher outside of Dallas, Texas says her students used SOLEs to answer Sugata’s question as well. “We’ve had research lessons before,” she says, “but seeing their approach to this question (being deliberately hands-off!) was a good eye-opener on future topics to cover.”

Some of those future topics Elisa mentions could be created by you, or your students!

There’s also further inspiration for Big Questions from Sage Franch:

Or this one from Mark Wood:

 

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Big Questions | Education | Memory | Self-Learning | Self-organised Learning | Sugata Mitra

solecolombia4 SOLE gives peace a chance

SOLE Colombia

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SOLE Colombia

SOLE gives peace a chance


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - SOLE Colombia

  Location: Colombia



When Sugata Mitra first muted the idea of the School in the Cloud, his dream was a place where children could go on intellectual adventures together.

But in Colombia, it’s not just children that are doing it – whole communities are embracing self organised learning environments (SOLE) to help them find answers to their own Big Questions.

As SOLE Colombia’s director, Sanjay Fernandes, explains, his organisation’s work to expand SOLE across the country has led to amazing outcomes they never envisaged three years ago. It’s also put them in an unique position to help advise on the peace process,

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When Sugata Mitra first muted the idea of the School in the Cloud, his dream was a place where children could go on intellectual adventures together.

But in Colombia, it’s not just children that are doing it – whole communities are embracing self organised learning environments (SOLE) to help them find answers to their own Big Questions.

As SOLE Colombia’s director, Sanjay Fernandes, explains, his organisation’s work to expand SOLE across the country has led to amazing outcomes they never envisaged three years ago. It’s also put them in an unique position to help advise on the peace process, which we’ll get to shortly!

“People in rural communities have their own Big Questions and that’s what has been so powerful,” says Sanjay. “It’s been fascinating to see and very different to your average education stories. It’s not about grade results or organisational objectives – it’s about community empowerment and that’s what we’re all about.”

solecolombia2
Villagers have used SOLE to find out how to make their plantations more efficient and productive and also used what they’ve discovered to set up their own entrepreneurial projects such as creating bakeries or making recycled bags. (SOLE Colombia’s own SOLE kit is made out of old grain/rice/ or flour sacks and has inspired many others to try it themselves).

In one rural village, about one and a half hours away from the nearest town, people go to do a SOLE in the school at least once a week, without any guidance. “They’re completely doing it on their own – we don’t control that,” says Sanjay. “This is real self organisation where we don’t need to do anything at all.”

And now SOLE Colombia has just embarked on its most ambitious project yet –

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Colombia | Community | SOLE

Inspiring families to learn together


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: New Jersey



Like many before him, Steven Delpome was inspired to try SOLE after hearing Sugata Mitra talk.

“I was listening to him on the TED Radio Hour and got fascinated by the whole idea,” he explains. Up until then I was a believer like everyone else that you tell children to do things, they practice, learn it and move on. Then the test says ‘they passed’ so they’re good.”

At that point in our chat, Steven pauses to reflect on what he just said: “I’ve moved on so far since then –

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Like many before him, Steven Delpome was inspired to try SOLE after hearing Sugata Mitra talk.

“I was listening to him on the TED Radio Hour and got fascinated by the whole idea,” he explains. Up until then I was a believer like everyone else that you tell children to do things, they practice, learn it and move on. Then the test says ‘they passed’ so they’re good.”

At that point in our chat, Steven pauses to reflect on what he just said: “I’ve moved on so far since then – that sentence makes so little sense to me right now!” he laughs.

Later that year he started experimenting a little in class to see what the kids could do on their own. He didn’t rush into it though – he spent seven months researching SOLE before he took the leap. “I thought ‘let’s try it once and see how it goes’,” he says. So the 6th grade English teacher picked a question off the list of Big Questions  What is irony?

“I followed the pattern word for word and it was fairly brilliant,” Steven explains. He ran the SOLE on the Friday of a long weekend and on the following Tuesday, he pulled the kids aside for 1:1s to see what they remembered. The concept had stuck for almost all of them.

“What impressed me was that they didn’t all have the same answer – they were able to build their own understanding around it,” he says. For example, one girl had found a video online that showed the difference between surprise and irony which made it clear to her.

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Children | Education | families | Libraries | Schools | SOLE | Technology

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