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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.


Download Toolkit


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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.


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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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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India can't get enough of the Granny Cloud


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: India



One of the grannies remarked to me that it wasn’t like travelling with a group of people you’d never met before – more like friends you’d known for years.  At times the bus resembles a raucous out of school trip, with much laughter, leg pulling and tall tales being told.

Everywhere we go we’re bowled over by the warmth of the welcome and the effort that the children, co-ordinators and local communities have gone to. There have been beautiful dancing, origami creations, thoughtful presentations by the local co-ordinators, and even magic tricks!

In Chandrakona we ate the best meal I’d had since coming to India –

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One of the grannies remarked to me that it wasn’t like travelling with a group of people you’d never met before – more like friends you’d known for years.  At times the bus resembles a raucous out of school trip, with much laughter, leg pulling and tall tales being told.

Everywhere we go we’re bowled over by the warmth of the welcome and the effort that the children, co-ordinators and local communities have gone to. There have been beautiful dancing, origami creations, thoughtful presentations by the local co-ordinators, and even magic tricks!

In Chandrakona we ate the best meal I’d had since coming to India – simple, fresh produce perfectly cooked from vegetables that came from a plot just behind the lab with eggs from the chickens who roamed freely around the buildings.

I also have a feeling there might be a mind reader living near the Korakati SOLE lab. As we bounced along the track I looked up at the huge coconut palms whizzing by and remarked to Mousumi next to me that I would quite possibly give my right arm for some fresh coconut water right now. We were barely past the welcome line when that’s exactly what we were all handed. It was quite possibly the best thing I have ever tasted.

This is no luxury tour of India. Every day we’ve been heading off the beaten track, eating as the locals do and often travelling that way too wherever possible. However, a few hours in a ramshackle bus with fans serving as decoration rather than any practical use made us truly appreciate the  luxury of the air-conditioned version!

Korakati was always going to be the most adventurous of all – a bus, boat crossing and then a bumpy ride along a track on a van rickshaw through villages for half an hour to reach the lab.

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Granny Cloud

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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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

Freedom City 2017 Feature Image Freedom City 2017: Your Global SOLE Responses

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

Freedom City 2017: Your Global SOLE Responses


  Author - Frances Hardcastle

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Global



On Monday 16th January, people from across the world were invited to answer a special Big Question to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, as part of the Freedom City 2017 programme. Here’s how the SOLE Global Community responded:

The UK

 

 

 

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On Monday 16th January, people from across the world were invited to answer a special Big Question to commemorate Martin Luther King Day, as part of the Freedom City 2017 programme. Here’s how the SOLE Global Community responded:

The UK

 

 

 

 

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Big Question | Freedom City 2017 | Global SOLE | Martin Luther King Jr

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

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

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