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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.


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sugatacorevent A philosophical approach to SOLE

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

A philosophical approach to SOLE


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: England



For our latest blog post, we spoke to Sugata Mitra about his current experiment, which is bound to get people thinking! You can also listen to the interview in full.

Sugata: “When I think about children and values and beliefs I find most of the time these are actually impose – unlike, for example, a poem. You wouldn’t say to a child ‘you have to like this poem because it’s very famous’. You would say ‘do you think it’s a good poem?’

“In the English language we would say values are acquired.

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For our latest blog post, we spoke to Sugata Mitra about his current experiment, which is bound to get people thinking! You can also listen to the interview in full.

Sugata: “When I think about children and values and beliefs I find most of the time these are actually impose – unlike, for example, a poem. You wouldn’t say to a child ‘you have to like this poem because it’s very famous’. You would say ‘do you think it’s a good poem?’

“In the English language we would say values are acquired. But I don’t see any acquisition going on here <in mainstream education>. I see imposition instead.

“When it comes to belief systems it can get even worse. A lot of our world’s troubles are because of belief systems. <But> if a belief system is editable then I think there’s not much wrong with it.

“In a way science is a belief system: people tell you there’s gravity and you might say ‘how do you know?’ and I would say: ‘here’s the experiments that show that gravity exists’, but then you are not going to do those experiments. You really have to just believe me, so it is a belief system but it is editable.

Children-led belief and value systems

“As time goes on our beliefs change and we say ‘they got it wrong and now we’ve got it right’. However, unfortunately there are other belief systems which our children grow up in which are not editable. They are usually written down 1,000s of years ago and they are in every culture. I’m a bit uneasy with books written several thousand years ago which are not editable and everything in them is supposed to be right.

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Children | Education | Philosophy | Schools | Sugata Mitra

The Big Question

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Autodidact - Posted by Reymundo Jíménez Uribe


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Mexico



How can I be autodidact?

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How can I be autodidact?

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Education | Self-directed Learning | Self-organised Learning

The Big Question

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Learning - Posted by Miguel Salas Ahumada


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Baja California



Where are we going with this new method of learning?

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Where are we going with this new method of learning?

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Education | Learning | SOLE

Inspiring families to learn together


  Author - School in the Cloud

  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

The Big Question

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Good Schools - Posted by Kim Hughes


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Australia



What makes a good school?

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What makes a good school?

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Education

SOLE: A Parent's View


  Author - School in the Cloud

  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

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 - School in the Cloud

  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

The Big Question

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SOLES, Technology and Teachers


  Author - School in the Cloud



With SOLEs & Technology, does the teacher role become redundant?

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With SOLEs & Technology, does the teacher role become redundant?

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Education | SOLE | Teachers | Technology

The Big Question

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Students: Find own Big Questions?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Isn’t it better that students find their own Big Questions?

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Isn’t it better that students find their own Big Questions?

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Big Questions | Education | Engagement | Learning | Students

The Big Question

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Children: Can they learn without school?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Can children learn without going to school?

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Can children learn without going to school?

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Children | Education | Learning | Schools | Society | Thinking

The Big Question

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More Technology: Would education be different?


  Author - School in the Cloud



How would education be different if we added more technology?

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How would education be different if we added more technology?

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Digital Technology | Education | Education Technology | Learning | Technology

The Big Question

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Intelligence: Does reading improve it?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Does reading improve intelligence?

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Does reading improve intelligence?

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Biology | Brains | Education | Intelligence | Learning | Literacy | Reading

The Big Question

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The Past: Can it teach us about the future?


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can the past teach us about the future?

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How can the past teach us about the future?

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Education | History | Learning | Social History | Social Studies | Sociology | The Future | The Past

The Big Question

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Student Power at School


  Author - School in the Cloud



Should students have more power to choose their own work at school?

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Should students have more power to choose their own work at school?

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Democracy | Education | Learning | Power | Schools | Self-Learning | Students

The Big Question

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Learning: How do we learn?


  Author - School in the Cloud



How do we learn?

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How do we learn?

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Education | Learning | Learning Styles

The Big Question

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Preparing Students for the Future


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can teachers prepare students for the future without knowing what the future will look like?

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How can teachers prepare students for the future without knowing what the future will look like?

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Education | Learning | Students | Teachers | The Future

The Big Question

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India: Why is education system outdated?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why is the education system in India so outdated and slow to change?

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Why is the education system in India so outdated and slow to change?

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Education | India

The Big Question

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Learning from Other Cultures


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can learning about other cultures help our society?

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How can learning about other cultures help our society?

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Culture | Education | Learning | Science | Social Science | Sociology

The Big Question

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Students Teaching


  Author - School in the Cloud



If our students could teach us, how would their achievement levels change?

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If our students could teach us, how would their achievement levels change?

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Cognition | Education | Students | Teaching

The Big Question

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Educating Students with Behaviour Problems


  Author - School in the Cloud



How do we provide education for students with severe behavior problems?

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How do we provide education for students with severe behavior problems?

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Behaviour Problems | Education | Human Behaviour | Students

The Big Question

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Students: How will they learn in 2026?


  Author - School in the Cloud



How will students learn in 2026?

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How will students learn in 2026?

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Education | Learning | Learning Styles | Schools | Students | The Future

The Big Question

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Why People Learn


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do people learn?

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Why do people learn?

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Education | Learning | Neuroscience | Pedagogy | People | Philosophy | Science

The Big Question

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School in the Cloud: Working in Rural Areas


  Author - School in the Cloud



How Could School in the Cloud be made to work for the most remote rural areas that have no mains electricity or broadband?

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How Could School in the Cloud be made to work for the most remote rural areas that have no mains electricity or broadband?

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Broadband | Digital Technology | Education | Electricity | Innovation | Internet | Poverty | Rural Communities | School in the Cloud | SOLE

The Big Question

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Learning by Ourselves


  Author - School in the Cloud



If we can learn by ourselves, why do we need teachers?

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If we can learn by ourselves, why do we need teachers?

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Education | Learning | Learning Styles | Self-Learning | Teachers

The Big Question

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Television


  Author - School in the Cloud



Is TV a waste of time?

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Is TV a waste of time?

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Education | Television

The Big Question

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Learning a Foreign Language


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can you learn a foreign language?

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How can you learn a foreign language?

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Education | Language | Learning

The Big Question

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Learning and Teaching of Maths


  Author - School in the Cloud



What would learning and teaching of mathematics look like without tests?

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What would learning and teaching of mathematics look like without tests?

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Education | Exams | Learning | Maths | Teaching

The Big Question

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Infants learning languages


  Author - School in the Cloud



How could an infant learn more than a language at a time?

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How could an infant learn more than a language at a time?

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Babies | Education | Infants | Language | Learning | Linguistics | Multi-lingual

The Big Question

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Learning Development in the Future


  Author - School in the Cloud



How will learning develop in the future?

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How will learning develop in the future?

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Education | Learning

The Big Question

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Exams: Help or Hurt a Child Education


  Author - School in the Cloud



How do exams help or hurt a child’s education?

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How do exams help or hurt a child’s education?

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Children | Education | Exams

The Big Question

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Learning History


  Author - School in the Cloud



What are we trying to learn when we study history?

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What are we trying to learn when we study history?

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Education | History | Learning

The Big Question

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Education: why do we need it?


  Author - Indigo Admin



Why do we need to educate ourselves?

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Why do we need to educate ourselves?

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Education | Knowledge | Learning

The Big Question

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Collaborative Learning


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why is it easier to learn things when there are several people learning together?

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Why is it easier to learn things when there are several people learning together?

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Collaboration | Education | Friends | Learning

The Big Question

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Learning with technology


  Author - School in the Cloud



How far does technology help us learn better?

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How far does technology help us learn better?

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Digital Technology | Education | Education Technology | Learning | Technology

The Big Question

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The technology children prefer in classroom


  Author - James Stanfield



What kind of technology do children prefer to use in the classroom and would they like to use more or less of it?

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What kind of technology do children prefer to use in the classroom and would they like to use more or less of it?

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Children | Classrooms | Education | Education Technology | Learning | Technology

The Big Question

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Technology in mixed ability Functional English classes


  Author - School in the Cloud



Does technology speed up or slow down the learning process in mixed ability Functional English classes?

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Does technology speed up or slow down the learning process in mixed ability Functional English classes?

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Education | Education Technology | Learning | Teaching English | Technology

The Big Question

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Impact of Technology on Nature


  Author - School in the Cloud



Should we advance in technology despite the impact this has on nature?

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Should we advance in technology despite the impact this has on nature?

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Education | Environment | Nature | Sociology | Technology

The Big Question

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Universal Language in Educational Technology


  Author - School in the Cloud



Should there be one universal language in educational technology?

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Should there be one universal language in educational technology?

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Education | Education Technology | Language | Technology

The Big Question

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Barriers to Learning


  Author - School in the Cloud



What are the barriers to learning?

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What are the barriers to learning?

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Education | Learning

The Big Question

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Music Lessons


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do music lessons help math ability?

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Why do music lessons help math ability?

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Brains | Education | Maths | Music | Music Lessons

The Big Question

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21st Century Classroom


  Author - School in the Cloud



Can SOLE offer a solution to the 21st century classroom or is it still in search of pedagogy?

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Can SOLE offer a solution to the 21st century classroom or is it still in search of pedagogy?

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21st Century | Classrooms | Education | Learning | Pedagogy | Schools

The Big Question

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Access to Internet during Exams


  Author - School in the Cloud



Should we give children access to the internet during exams?

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Should we give children access to the internet during exams?

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Children | Education | Exams | Internet | Learning | Pedagogy

The Big Question

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World without Exams


  Author - School in the Cloud



How do you imagine a world without exams?

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How do you imagine a world without exams?

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Education | Exams | Learning

The Big Question

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21st Century Curriculum


  Author - School in the Cloud



If knowing is obsolete, what would be the content of a 21st century curriculum?

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If knowing is obsolete, what would be the content of a 21st century curriculum?

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21st Century | Curriculum | Education

The Big Question

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Teaching Children to Read


  Author - School in the Cloud



How should we be teaching children to read?

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How should we be teaching children to read?

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Children | Education | Learning | Reading | Teaching

The Big Question

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Being Smart


  Author - School in the Cloud



What does it mean to be smart?

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What does it mean to be smart?

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Cognition | Education | Intelligence | Knowledge | Neurology | Philosophy

The Big Question

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Teachers vs Students


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do teachers think students can never be more intelligent than they are?

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Why do teachers think students can never be more intelligent than they are?

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Education | Intelligence | Learning | Students | Teachers

The Big Question

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Learning outside of School


  Author - School in the Cloud



If you didn’t have to go to school, what would you learn?

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If you didn’t have to go to school, what would you learn?

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Education | Learning | Schools | Self-Learning

The Big Question

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Schools in 100 Years


  Author - School in the Cloud



What will schools look like in 100 years?

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What will schools look like in 100 years?

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Education | Learning | Schools | The Future

The Big Question

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Equity in Education


  Author - School in the Cloud



What would happen to the world if there were true equity in education?

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What would happen to the world if there were true equity in education?

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Education | Equality | Human Rights

The Big Question

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What learning can do


  Author - School in the Cloud



What learning can do to you?

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What learning can do to you?

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Education | Evolution | Learning | Teaching

The Big Question

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Traditional Schooling - increasing brain stress response


  Author - School in the Cloud



What is the evidence that traditional schooling increases the brain’s stress response?

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What is the evidence that traditional schooling increases the brain’s stress response?

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Brains | Education | Neuroscience | Science

The Big Question

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Individual Learning


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do individuals learn differently?

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Why do individuals learn differently?

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Cognition | Education | Learning | Learning Styles

The Big Question

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Why Learn?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do we have to learn?

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Why do we have to learn?

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Education | Learning

The Big Question

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SOLE's Effective way of Learning?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Are SOLEs an effective way of learning?

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Are SOLEs an effective way of learning?

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Education | Learning | SOLE

The Big Question

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If Students Interests influenced Learning


  Author - School in the Cloud



What would happen if we let students’ interests drive the learning and did not have to follow a standard curriculum?

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What would happen if we let students’ interests drive the learning and did not have to follow a standard curriculum?

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Curriculum | Education | Learning | Students

The Big Question

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Best way to Learn


  Author - School in the Cloud



What is the best way to learn?

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What is the best way to learn?

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Brains | Cognition | Education | Learning | Learning Styles

The Big Question

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How do we Learn?


  Author - School in the Cloud



Do we all learn the same way?

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Do we all learn the same way?

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Cognition | Education | Learning | Learning Styles

The Big Question

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Educare


  Author - School in the Cloud



What is “educare” and where was it first used?

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What is “educare” and where was it first used?

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Educare | Education | Etimology | History

The Big Question

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Classroom Design


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can classroom design have a positive effect on the way we learn?

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How can classroom design have a positive effect on the way we learn?

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Architecture | Classroom Design | Design | Education | Learning

The Big Question

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Mutual Understanding


  Author - School in the Cloud



How can we create a mutual understanding and respect amongst different civilisations so that war and terrorism become less likely?

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How can we create a mutual understanding and respect amongst different civilisations so that war and terrorism become less likely?

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Civilisations | Education | Evolution | Respect | Terrorism | Understanding | War

The Big Question

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Time Travel


  Author - Indigo Admin



If you could travel into the future and our education system was “the best it can be”, what would that look like? What would that feel like? How would your life as a student be different from today?

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If you could travel into the future and our education system was “the best it can be”, what would that look like? What would that feel like? How would your life as a student be different from today?

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Curriculum | Education | Science | Time Travel

The Big Question

View All Questions

History


  Author - School in the Cloud



Why do we learn history

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Why do we learn history

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Education | History | Learning

as if by magic - feature As if by magic

TED Lab - Chandrakona

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TED Lab - Chandrakona

As if by magic


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Chandrakona

  Location: Chandrakona



Some people think what happens in a SOLE is a little bit magic; they might well be right. But if you happen to drop by the Chandrakona lab lately, magic is exactly what you’ll see.

When faced with a science question they couldn’t answer these Indian children did what comes naturally to them: look to the Internet for help.

A small group of boys turned to YouTube to teach themselves about chemical reaction and science so they could learn magic tricks to perform for their ‘Grannies’ over Skype.

And as their next session approached,

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Some people think what happens in a SOLE is a little bit magic; they might well be right. But if you happen to drop by the Chandrakona lab lately, magic is exactly what you’ll see.

When faced with a science question they couldn’t answer these Indian children did what comes naturally to them: look to the Internet for help.

A small group of boys turned to YouTube to teach themselves about chemical reaction and science so they could learn magic tricks to perform for their ‘Grannies’ over Skype.

And as their next session approached, they gathered the materials they needed to take to the lab: one water bottle, a rubber balloon, a funnel, a little baking powder and some vinegar and water.

Firstly, they filled a quarter of the bottle with water. Then they put some baking powder into the balloon using the funnel. After they had put the funnel onto the water bottle and mixed the vinegar in the water, they were ready. “Now we will show the magic,” they said. “The magic is the balloon will blow up automatically.”

The boys then fitted the balloon onto the mouth of the bottle, causing the baking soda in the balloon to fall down into it, mixing with the water and vinegar. The balloon then automatically blows up, as predicted!

“All who were at the lab including the kids clapped when they saw the magic,” says co-ordinator Joydev Goswami. “They were very much excited because their first experiment which they had learned from YouTube was successful. They told the Granny that they had wanted to work out how to blow a balloon without air pressure.”

Those present were really impressed not only by the tricks, but by the level of understanding shown by the children about what they were doing.

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Chemical Reaction | Chemistry | Education | Learning | Magic | Science

cleveland_feature Inspiring future community leaders through SOLE

SOLE Cleveland

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SOLE Cleveland

Inspiring future community leaders through SOLE


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Cleveland

  Location: Ohio



You’d imagine trying to get 1,000 high school students engaged in the same activity at the same time would be challenge enough. But not for Jeff McCellan: he decided to add a little extra chaos to the mix by making it a SOLE (self organised learning environment) as well.

Jeff has been using SOLE in classrooms across the Cleveland region for over a year. When one of his funders said they were interested in exploring this pedagogical approach to engage large numbers of students around issues that matter in the community, he thought big.

So they set about the task of gathering 1,000 students from Cleveland and North East Ohio to focus on just one question: What is in your heart and mind about the ownership of power in your community?

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You’d imagine trying to get 1,000 high school students engaged in the same activity at the same time would be challenge enough. But not for Jeff McCellan: he decided to add a little extra chaos to the mix by making it a SOLE (self organised learning environment) as well.

Jeff has been using SOLE in classrooms across the Cleveland region for over a year. When one of his funders said they were interested in exploring this pedagogical approach to engage large numbers of students around issues that matter in the community, he thought big.

So they set about the task of gathering 1,000 students from Cleveland and North East Ohio to focus on just one question: What is in your heart and mind about the ownership of power in your community? This question goes right to the heart of a community still reeling from a recent incident where 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot in a park by police in Cleveland.

In March 2016, 45 different schools came from 15 different districts, along with about 20 community members, including representatives from the mayor’s office, and took over an entire building on the Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus.

cleveland

After gathering everyone together in a lecture theatre and an auditorium to set the scene, they broke out into 37 different rooms where SOLEs happened simultaneously around the Big Question. The biggest room had 40 students; the smallest 20, so as you can imagine it was pretty lively! There was one SOLE facilitator in each room, as well as a high school student acting as a support facilitator.

“We were interested in hearing what students thought about where power lies within their communities,” explains Jeff. “One of the aims was to give them a question that would be open enough to give them the freedom to do that –

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Communities | Education | Leadership | Learning | Students

Greenfield Arts - Feature How powerful ‘fantastic and curious learning’ really is

TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

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TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

How powerful ‘fantastic and curious learning’ really is


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

  Location: Newton Aycliffe



2015 was a year of unexpected opportunities, amazing connections and wonderful learning experiences for the SOLE lab in Room 13.

Located in Greenfield Arts in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK, it is one of the original seven TED Prize labs and recently celebrated its second birthday.

Co-ordinator Katy Milne marked the occasion in style by joining the Granny Cloud and other educators for the India tour in February 2016.

“One of the most powerful and rewarding things for me is the understanding the Engine Heads (the committee of students who run Room 13) have developed and the language they have found to express and reflect upon how they learn,” says Katy.

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2015 was a year of unexpected opportunities, amazing connections and wonderful learning experiences for the SOLE lab in Room 13.

Located in Greenfield Arts in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, UK, it is one of the original seven TED Prize labs and recently celebrated its second birthday.

Co-ordinator Katy Milne marked the occasion in style by joining the Granny Cloud and other educators for the India tour in February 2016.

“One of the most powerful and rewarding things for me is the understanding the Engine Heads (the committee of students who run Room 13) have developed and the language they have found to express and reflect upon how they learn,” says Katy. “They have flourished in a learning environment that has allowed that to happen.

“It is so powerful as they make meaning for themselves and know how to apply their capabilities to any situation. They are also amazing advocates for SOLE and I’m looking forward to extending this further and providing even more opportunities for more learners.”

To celebrate Room 13’s 2nd birthday artists Nicola Golightly and Laura Degnan were commissioned to make the short film and a Little Book of Big Questions, with the first copy being handed to Sugata to mark his birthday which is coincidentally just a day before Room 13’s!

In the past year, Room 13 has:

  • Hosted educators from across the UK, India,The Netherlands, Belgium, France, New Zealand
  • Skyped with Grannies, Suneeta (Dr Kulkarni)in India and new friends across the country
  • Asked Big Questions about the moon, dancing, clouds, the Internet, ourselves,each other, the Victorians and how rivers work, among others
  • Shared experiences with teachers and students and organised SOLE sessions forprimary and secondary schools from across the country
  • Spoken at conferences in the UK and Europe,
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Arts | Education | Grannies | Greenfield Arts | Learning | TED Prize

new_language_feature SOLE? It's like learning a new language

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

SOLE? It's like learning a new language


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: London



SOLE is increasingly being used in many different settings, including some where it might not seem a natural fit, such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Traditionally an area which relies on individual learning or teacher-led in a classroom, it was little surprise that Prof Sugata Mitra caused a bit of a stir when he gave a keynote speech about learning needing to be far more self-organised at an IATEFL conference.

But this was actually the catalyst for a pilot study carried out between SOLE Central and International House in London to look at the potential for using SOLE to help adults learn English as a foreign language.

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SOLE is increasingly being used in many different settings, including some where it might not seem a natural fit, such as Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).

Traditionally an area which relies on individual learning or teacher-led in a classroom, it was little surprise that Prof Sugata Mitra caused a bit of a stir when he gave a keynote speech about learning needing to be far more self-organised at an IATEFL conference.

But this was actually the catalyst for a pilot study carried out between SOLE Central and International House in London to look at the potential for using SOLE to help adults learn English as a foreign language.

Although this was only a small study, early findings suggest that while SOLE is not suitable for teaching higher level grammar, it can be effective in terms of language fluency and confidence, especially with less able students. One particular student whose command of English was notably lower than the rest seemed to flourish in this environment. After just four weeks, he was able to stand up in front of the class and give a three minute presentation without any difficulty.

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Eighteen multilingual students with an average age of 24-years-old from various different countries – including Japan, Colombia and France – took part in daily one hour-long SOLE sessions over a four week period in 2015. The sessions were run by three International House teachers who had between six months and eight years’ teaching experience.

They followed the usual Big Question format where the teacher sets the question then the students are given 40 minutes to work in small self-organised groups to come up with the answer, following up with a short presentation of their findings.

To make it feel less like a traditional classroom,

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Education | Teaching English | TEFL

Africa's got SOLE


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Ghana



If you’d told Joe Jamison a year ago that instead of standing in front of his students as usual this term he’d be sitting on a dusty floor in an African village drinking from a fresh coconut, he probably would’ve laughed you out of his classroom.

But that’s exactly where he found himself this September, as part of his new role as pedagogy innovation specialist for Pencils of Promise (PoP). I spoke to Joe just before he went for the blog and his story touched so many people that I caught with him again to find out how it went.

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If you’d told Joe Jamison a year ago that instead of standing in front of his students as usual this term he’d be sitting on a dusty floor in an African village drinking from a fresh coconut, he probably would’ve laughed you out of his classroom.

But that’s exactly where he found himself this September, as part of his new role as pedagogy innovation specialist for Pencils of Promise (PoP). I spoke to Joe just before he went for the blog and his story touched so many people that I caught with him again to find out how it went.

“It was such a good trip but it’s almost too hard to put words around it,” says Joe. “I try to paint a picture to explain it to people and just can’t do it justice. Before I went, people working in international education told me what to expect and I couldn’t get my head around it and now that I know for myself, I’m having difficulty getting other people to understand what it’s like!”

Joe’s focus is on educational programs but when he saw the situation first hand in Ghana, he realised he had to take a few steps backwards. “I saw the structures they were using to teach in and realised I was looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in practice: just after physiological needs is to feel safe, so before learning is even a thought for these children we’ve got to step back and look at the basics first,” he says.

School facilities in Ghana are often pretty rudimentary: it’s not unusual for children to have their lessons under the shade of a mango tree with a chalkboard pinned to it. Joe tells me how PoP is doing a tremendous job by building safe,

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Africa | Education

One small step for a frog, but a giant leap for Cambodia


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Cambodia



Have you heard the story about the frog in the well? Well, for Chantha Poeng this Khmer proverb perfectly illustrates why School in the Cloud is so important for Cambodia.

The Frog in the Well (Kong Keb Knong Ondong) knows nothing of great oceans and has a very narrow view of the world. He is king of all he sees and never jumps out; the well is ‘good enough’ for him.

“I want these children to stop being that frog – to get out and experience what life is like elsewhere,” explains Chantha. “This is a chance to experiment,

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Have you heard the story about the frog in the well? Well, for Chantha Poeng this Khmer proverb perfectly illustrates why School in the Cloud is so important for Cambodia.

The Frog in the Well (Kong Keb Knong Ondong) knows nothing of great oceans and has a very narrow view of the world. He is king of all he sees and never jumps out; the well is ‘good enough’ for him.

“I want these children to stop being that frog – to get out and experience what life is like elsewhere,” explains Chantha. “This is a chance to experiment, to know and learn new things and have a conversation with the outside world.”

Chantha is the teacher at the School in the Cloud just outside Battambang. It’s the first time we’ve ‘virtually’ met and yet we spend a lot of our time laughing on Skype like we’ve known each other for years. It’s easy to see why the children are so keen to learn with her.

But she has a serious side too: she challenges the young people who come through these doors, encouraging them to be more than they ever thought possible. This approach is a sharp contrast to the country’s traditional, authoritative teaching methods which focus on teachers giving the answers and students learning by rote.

The School in the Cloud, which is run through the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT), is based in a fantastic recycled classroom which includes glass bottle walls and painted tyres and is designed to inspire children to think differently about their education.

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Just two weeks ago the Granny Cloud started to ‘beam’ into Cambodia for the first time, bringing much excitement and confusion along with it. Chantha tells me how the children ran to the wall,

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Education | Granny Cloud | Skype

chaos_argentina_feature How learning emerges from chaos in Argentina

SOLE Argentina

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SOLE Argentina

How learning emerges from chaos in Argentina


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Argentina

  Location: Buenos Aires



Everywhere he goes, Sugata tests childrens’ limits with one aim in mind: to show there are really no limits on what they can achieve.

On his recent trip to Argentina, he put 6th grade students to the test at School 20 in the Barracas area to see if they could answer questions years ahead of their time. Similar challenges are being replicated all over the world, including at Greenfields SOLE lab in the UK last month.

SOLE Argentina has been piloting the SOLE approach at this location for just over four months, with the support of Buenos Aires’ Ministry of Education.

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Everywhere he goes, Sugata tests childrens’ limits with one aim in mind: to show there are really no limits on what they can achieve.

On his recent trip to Argentina, he put 6th grade students to the test at School 20 in the Barracas area to see if they could answer questions years ahead of their time. Similar challenges are being replicated all over the world, including at Greenfields SOLE lab in the UK last month.

SOLE Argentina has been piloting the SOLE approach at this location for just over four months, with the support of Buenos Aires’ Ministry of Education. So far, they have worked mainly on Big Questions linked into the curriculum.

On this occasion, Sugata took them to the next level by giving the children a question five or six years ahead of their time, similar to those required for university entrance courses.

This was the question: What is Fordism? Talk about this system and explain the causes of its decline.

No sugar-coating, no simplification of the language, no indication of any sources they should consult. And of course, Sugata’s standard tease: “This question is generally answered by 18-year-olds. Do you think you can answer it too?” Naturally, students are up for this new intellectual adventure.

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With just five small netbooks to share among 18 children, the magic of collective knowledge construction begins. Students move around their desks, talk to each other and work hard for half an hour. When they encounter a problem, they turn to co-ordinator ‘Professor Rodrigo’ who was appointed to the role by his own classmates.

“Educational authorities present are a bit scared it won’t work, that students won’t understand the texts they encountered,

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Chaos | Education | Fordism | Learning | Toyotism

European Researchers - feature image European researchers are 'rethinking education'

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

European researchers are 'rethinking education'


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne



SOLES are all about empowering children to take control of their own learning. Now researchers are hoping it can also work for young people at risk of dropping out of education altogether.

Early school leaving (ESL) is linked to unemployment, social exclusion, and poverty. While there are many reasons why young people decide to give up on education and training, such as family issues or learning difficulties, many simply become disengaged.

And as there is no single reason for early school leaving, there are also no easy answers. However, EUROSOLE, a new European-wide research project being led by Newcastle University’s SOLE Central,

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SOLES are all about empowering children to take control of their own learning. Now researchers are hoping it can also work for young people at risk of dropping out of education altogether.

Early school leaving (ESL) is linked to unemployment, social exclusion, and poverty. While there are many reasons why young people decide to give up on education and training, such as family issues or learning difficulties, many simply become disengaged.

And as there is no single reason for early school leaving, there are also no easy answers. However, EUROSOLE, a new European-wide research project being led by Newcastle University’s SOLE Central, aims to come up with some workable solutions over the next three years.

Researchers will be exploring how a new approach to the problem – where young people rather than educators take a leading role in their education – can help foster a lifelong love of learning. It will build on the idea of ‘traditional’ SOLEs, where the emphasis is on stimulating curiosity and engagement in learning within a social and collaborative atmosphere.

“Many young people leave school early because they feel disengaged,” explains Dr Anne Preston, of Newcastle University’s SOLE Central, who is leading the project. “We know that a lack of active involvement in their own learning plays a key role in the high percentage of early school leavers in Europe. But if you change the balance of control between teachers and students you can alter these dynamics and come up with effective preventative measures to tackle the issue.”

One of the main aims of the project is to create four sustainable alternative SOLE spaces in Newcastle (UK), North Tyneside (UK), Dublin (Ireland) and Lahti (Finland) to test this alternative approach.

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Education | EUROSOLE | George Stephenson High School | Learning | social exclusion

new_start_feature A promising new start

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

A promising new start


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne



This September, for the first time in 14 years, Joe Jamison didn’t walk into his classroom excited for the new school year.

However, it’s not yet another disillusioned public school teacher story: Joe’s so fired up about education that he’s prepared to step way outside his comfort zone.

So much so that he’s done something he vowed he would never do – get an office job. Although granted it’s a little different from the norm: they’ve just put him on plane to West Africa.

Joe’s now working for Pencils of Promise (PoP) after a series of serendipitous events which began after he watched Sugata Mitra’s TED Prize talk.

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This September, for the first time in 14 years, Joe Jamison didn’t walk into his classroom excited for the new school year.

However, it’s not yet another disillusioned public school teacher story: Joe’s so fired up about education that he’s prepared to step way outside his comfort zone.

So much so that he’s done something he vowed he would never do – get an office job. Although granted it’s a little different from the norm: they’ve just put him on plane to West Africa.

Joe’s now working for Pencils of Promise (PoP) after a series of serendipitous events which began after he watched Sugata Mitra’s TED Prize talk.

“I saw Sugata’s talk and was blown away. I thought ‘Oh man, I have to find out how to do that in my classroom’,” he says. “So I took it, tweaked it and played with it a little and in the first week of the new school year in 2013 I just hit the ground running with my 5th graders. I was fortunate to have a lot of admin support behind me and the kids took to it very quickly – it just took off.”

Joe has worked closely with the School in the Cloud team at Newcastle University ever since and when it came to selecting a class to feature as part of the Work Wonders Project collaboration between Sugata, Microsoft and PoP, his was an obvious choice.

Once they’d see him in action running a SOLE with students at Lawrence Intermediate School in New Jersey, USA the PoP team wanted Joe onboard to help set up SOLEs (self organised learning environments) in their schools in Ghana.

When I spoke to him last week he was about to embark on his first trip outside of North America,

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Education | Learning | Newcastle University | Skype | TED Prize

sole_searching_feature It's time to ask SOLE-searching questions

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

It's time to ask SOLE-searching questions


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne



SOLE researchers are getting ready to ‘hack’ the largest education research conference in the UK.

As far as we know, this is the first time that self organized learning has been integrated in this way and it’s likely to come as a bit of a surprise to many delegates at the BERA (British Educational Research Association) conference in Northern Ireland this week.

Gone will be the traditional conference set-up of an attentive audience listening to an authoritative speaker, replaced instead with an audience-led exploration of the technology/pedagogy divide.

Getting down with the kids: a self organized conference session is being led by SOLE Central research fellow Dr Anne Preston.


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SOLE researchers are getting ready to ‘hack’ the largest education research conference in the UK.

As far as we know, this is the first time that self organized learning has been integrated in this way and it’s likely to come as a bit of a surprise to many delegates at the BERA (British Educational Research Association) conference in Northern Ireland this week.

Gone will be the traditional conference set-up of an attentive audience listening to an authoritative speaker, replaced instead with an audience-led exploration of the technology/pedagogy divide.

Getting down with the kids: a self organized conference session is being led by SOLE Central research fellow Dr Anne Preston.
 Participants will be choosing one of three Big Questions put forward on social media in the lead up to the conference. “Who knows what might happen?” says Anne. “It’s likely, in true SOLE style, to descend into total chaos for a while, but hopefully something meaningful will emerge by the end of it all.”

The idea for this session originally stemmed from the reaction to a keynote given by Sugata Mitra last year at the IATEFL conference. Many English language teaching professionals in the audience notoriously walked out when he suggested that in future teaching would be redundant.

“While we have readily embraced most of what the Internet has to offer with hardly a murmur of dissent, when someone suggests it can also be used to help children teach themselves, it causes a lot of soul searching (no pun intended!) from a fair few educationalists,” says Anne.

So who is right and who is wrong? The indignant teachers or the professor who leads SOLE Central at Newcastle University, a team dedicated to bringing together researchers,

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BERA | Digital Technology | Education | Language | Pedagogy | Technology

colombia_feature Changing education in Colombia

SOLE Colombia

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SOLE Colombia

Changing education in Colombia


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Colombia

  Location: Colombia



“The SOLE community in Colombia is growing. We know something big is coming, and we know this is the paradigm shift our education needs to empower children all over the country.”

That’s the words of Sanjay Fernandes, speaking about the amazing progress that has been made in Colombia in a matter of months.

SOLEs started running in Colombia last year, with incredibly positive results: over 70 sessions took place in public libraries and kiosks in rural areas, supported by 20 SOLE ‘ambassadors’.

This year the SOLE team decided it was time to expand to allow people of all ages to participate in this life-changing learning experience throughout the country.

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“The SOLE community in Colombia is growing. We know something big is coming, and we know this is the paradigm shift our education needs to empower children all over the country.”

That’s the words of Sanjay Fernandes, speaking about the amazing progress that has been made in Colombia in a matter of months.

SOLEs started running in Colombia last year, with incredibly positive results: over 70 sessions took place in public libraries and kiosks in rural areas, supported by 20 SOLE ‘ambassadors’.

This year the SOLE team decided it was time to expand to allow people of all ages to participate in this life-changing learning experience throughout the country.

And they have some powerful allies on board: the Ministry of Technologies and the Ministry of Culture and Colciencias (the government agency responsible for science, technology and innovation). “Their support has been tremendous and working together with them we plan to run SOLEs with over 150,000 children in schools, libraries and public kiosks in rural and urban areas,” says Sanjay.

They are currently at the design stage of this year’s project, including everything they learned from last year’s pilot to make sure SOLEs can adapt to Colombia’s cultural requirements.

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This process involves designing educational tools that allow SOLEs to occur organically, without the need for constant follow-ups, but rather as a method that allows people to discover the answers they need to improve their living standards on their own.

“It is equally important to develop a system in which we are able to receive their data to both measure the impact of SOLE and what needs to be done to improve next year,” explains Sanjay. “Our purpose is to find a way in which SOLE becomes a life-changing agent within their communities,

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Education | Learning

Being a ‘granny’ is not as easy as it might look


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: India



The Granny Cloud has been up and running since 2009 when Sugata first put out an appeal in a UK newspaper for grandmothers with a spare hour a week who would like to talk to children in India and help them with their English skills.

There are a handful of loyal stalwarts still remaining from those early days, many of whom form a self-organised core team to help to recruit, interview and advise new recruits.

But there are far more who have fallen by the wayside, often daunted by the prospect of actually being a School in the Cloud granny once reality sets in.

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The Granny Cloud has been up and running since 2009 when Sugata first put out an appeal in a UK newspaper for grandmothers with a spare hour a week who would like to talk to children in India and help them with their English skills.

There are a handful of loyal stalwarts still remaining from those early days, many of whom form a self-organised core team to help to recruit, interview and advise new recruits.

But there are far more who have fallen by the wayside, often daunted by the prospect of actually being a School in the Cloud granny once reality sets in.

Dr Suneeta Kulkarni, research director for School in the Cloud based in India, says she can completely understand how they feel. “It can seem completely overwhelming to start with,” she admits.

“There’s a lot more tech available now than when we first started and I know that can put some people off, but this is not the crux of the interaction. If you’re comfortable with it, then use it by all means, but it may actually hinder the process if it’s a brand new group not used to computers or the English language.

“It’s really just about chatting with the children about whatever takes your, and their, fancy. When you start with a new group you need to get a feel for their environment, who they are and what they like. I’d always say don’t go in with a plan – just go with it. Just say ‘hi’ and take it from there. At the end of the day, the primary aim is to have fun, and that goes for the granny as well as the children!”

Suneeta often advises new grannies to think of those initial sessions as a bit like turning up at a family gathering where there just happens to be a group of children who are really keen to talk to you!

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Education | Grannies | Granny Cloud | Language | Teaching English

turning_art_world_feature Turning the art world on its head

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

Turning the art world on its head


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne



It’s not enough to turn the education system upside down: SOLE is about to enter a world many of us consider off-limits.

Contemporary art is often portrayed as an elitist world full of large canvases with coloured dots and hefty price tags, but Helen Burns believes it doesn’t have to be that way.

The SOLE Central research fellow has spent her career helping children and adults explore their creativity through contemporary art and now she’s applying all she’s learnt so far to a new exciting project.

Gallery in the Cloud will give school children and other gallery audiences the chance to become curators of their own contemporary art galleries.

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It’s not enough to turn the education system upside down: SOLE is about to enter a world many of us consider off-limits.

Contemporary art is often portrayed as an elitist world full of large canvases with coloured dots and hefty price tags, but Helen Burns believes it doesn’t have to be that way.

The SOLE Central research fellow has spent her career helping children and adults explore their creativity through contemporary art and now she’s applying all she’s learnt so far to a new exciting project.

Gallery in the Cloud will give school children and other gallery audiences the chance to become curators of their own contemporary art galleries. Supported by the SOLE method of learning collaboratively in groups, they will create digital artworks inspired by their own experiences that will reflect their own individual identities.

The resulting art collection will be self-curated, using cloud-based technology to create an ever-evolving gallery.

“It challenges the usual conventions of a gallery space and turns the concept of an ‘art world’ on its head, focussing instead on the ‘experience’ of art, which is accessible to everyone,’ says Helen.

Turning art world on its head - robot

This dented war robot (above) is from one of Helen’s previous art-based learning projects. The child who made it said it represented their experience of learning as ‘battered, but not giving up’

Helen is focussing initially on children at transitional periods in their education, such as SATs. “These are tough times for them,” she says. “A combination of the skills and resilience gained through creating contemporary art using SOLE could have a really positive effect on their ability to cope when they’ve got a lot to deal with.

“SOLE pedagogy and contemporary art actually have a lot in common as they can both be good vehicles for developing your own ‘voice’ and there are no wrong answers.”

The artists will be able to constantly revisit their artwork over several years,

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Art | Arts | Baltic Arts Centre | Durham University | Education | Granny Cloud | Orkney Islands | Pedagogy | SOLE

jam_sandwich_feature How to make a jam sandwich, SOLE style

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

How to make a jam sandwich, SOLE style


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Bedfordshire



If the average adult sat down to work out how to teach basic coding, they probably wouldn’t naturally think of a jam sandwich.

But that’s exactly what this SOLE group of home schoolers did with their presentation to computer science teachers.

Anna the (real life) robot was given a set of instructions to follow to make the sandwich, which may have resulted in a lot of mess, but certainly got the message across about how to teach the subject far more effectively than a textbook.

Jacqueline Emkes, an e-Learning consultant and part-time maths teacher,

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If the average adult sat down to work out how to teach basic coding, they probably wouldn’t naturally think of a jam sandwich.

But that’s exactly what this SOLE group of home schoolers did with their presentation to computer science teachers.

Anna the (real life) robot was given a set of instructions to follow to make the sandwich, which may have resulted in a lot of mess, but certainly got the message across about how to teach the subject far more effectively than a textbook.

Jacqueline Emkes, an e-Learning consultant and part-time maths teacher, runs SOLEs for home educated children at Biddenham International School and Sports College in Bedfordshire, UK.

They have been running since 2013, supported by the college and the local authority’s PLACE programme for children who are not in school but on the Elective Home Education (EHE) Register.

One of the biggest challenges Jacq faces is the diverse age range of her group – from eight to 12-years-old – which means she is often diverted from her original lesson plan. There are usually around 15-20 children, but the numbers fluctuate as families come and go.

“Inevitably ‘normal’ behaviour rules go out the window,” says Jacq. “Children are soon found scrolling the internet lying on the floor, under a desk, on top of a desk, perched on a table. Anything goes – it’s all learning! The children can move around freely, help other groups and indeed swap groups.”
Jacq’s SOLE makes good use of the safe social learning platform Makewaves where they can upload their work to create movies, pictures and stories to share with the group.

They are also encouraged to critique each other’s work (in a positive and helpful way, naturally!) and even family members and the college’s principal have been adding their own comments to help improve student’s work.

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Children | Computer Science | Education | Food | Human Behaviour | Internet | Jam | Robots | Sandwiches | Sanitation

Khud

Introducing: Khud


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - Khud

  Location: Khud



This blog was originally published on the Khud website on 6th June 2015; it is reproduced here with our thanks.

Khud is a small experiment hoping to make a big impact. Khud’s mission is to give underprivileged children in Pakistan (and maybe beyond?) a fighting chance.

The Pakistan education crisis has multiple insane dimensions. To boil it down quantitatively:

*25 million children do not go to school
*1.25 Million teachers are needed

Qualitatively the news is not good either. The children that are in school are not exactly getting a great education.

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This blog was originally published on the Khud website on 6th June 2015; it is reproduced here with our thanks.

Khud is a small experiment hoping to make a big impact. Khud’s mission is to give underprivileged children in Pakistan (and maybe beyond?) a fighting chance.

The Pakistan education crisis has multiple insane dimensions. To boil it down quantitatively:

*25 million children do not go to school
*1.25 Million teachers are needed

Qualitatively the news is not good either. The children that are in school are not exactly getting a great education. The rote-learning based system does not prepare them to tackle the world in a truly productive way.

Khud is not going to reinvent the wheel. We plan to take insights from:

*Socrates and his method around letting students arrive at their own conclusions
*Maria Montessori and her approach that encouraged children to play and teach themselves
*Sugata Mitra and his approach around self organized learning

The plan is to start this experiment in a school on the outskirts of Lahore. Make mistakes, gather data, learn – be agile. Then scale.

Khud - map

Wish us luck. Share our story. Connect with us.

To keep up with the story, follow Khud on Twitter: @salahkhawaja

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Children | Education | Sugata Mitra | Underprivileged

got_sole_feature So you think you've got SOLE? Sugata Mitra explains the science behind it

SOLE Central

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SOLE Central

So you think you've got SOLE? Sugata Mitra explains the science behind it


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - SOLE Central

  Location: Newcastle Upon Tyne



Sugata recently appeared on BBC World Service’s The Forum programme to talk about SOLEs and his idea for school exams in the future. We thought you might like to hear some of what was discussed on this blog.

“It’s important to understand the sense in which I use the word ‘self organising system’,” says Sugata. “It’s not organisation of the self. I find increasingly that people mix it up with self-regulated or self-directed learning and that’s not what I’m talking about.

“A self organising system is basically a concept that comes out of maths and physics which is that if you allow a system to be chaotic then,

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Sugata recently appeared on BBC World Service’s The Forum programme to talk about SOLEs and his idea for school exams in the future. We thought you might like to hear some of what was discussed on this blog.

“It’s important to understand the sense in which I use the word ‘self organising system’,” says Sugata. “It’s not organisation of the self. I find increasingly that people mix it up with self-regulated or self-directed learning and that’s not what I’m talking about.

“A self organising system is basically a concept that comes out of maths and physics which is that if you allow a system to be chaotic then, under certain circumstances, you get spontaneous order.

“I think I’ve seen that happen with children quite accidentally; initially I had not a clue that was what was happening. Yet over the last 15 years, in instance after instance, I’ve seen groups of children who simply don’t know any English confronted with the internet in English and making sense of what they see.”

Sugata also talked to BBC host Bridget Kendall about how hole-in-the-wall developed into School in the Cloud in a way that would not have been possible before the Internet, and how it has changed the way children learn.

“When a group reads together they somehow read at much higher levels of comprehension than an individual child,” he explains. “This was not something I’d seen before. The limitations of reading in print means you can’t easily read the same book at the same time in a group, but you can on screen.

“We’ve seen instant amplification of comprehension – as soon as one stumbles, another one steps in to help, creating this spontaneous order.”

Sugata says that this instantaneous feedback from peers,

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BBC World Service | Children | Education | Internet | Learning | Maths | Physics

Meet the family "unschooling" their kids in an olive orchard


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Location: Umbria



Lehla Eldridge and her husband Anthony Rogers are pointing a laptop out of their second-story bedroom window. Below them, a cinematic Italian olive orchard stretches into the distance. “This is a kind of typical Umbrian landscape,” Anthony says.

I’m amazed by what they’re showing me on Skype. Not only is this the beautiful view from their home, it’s the beautiful view from their children’s classroom as well.

“I think most of the people around here know that we’re the English family who have three children,” Lehla says. “But I don’t know if they know they go to school or don’t go to school.”

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Lehla Eldridge and her husband Anthony Rogers are pointing a laptop out of their second-story bedroom window. Below them, a cinematic Italian olive orchard stretches into the distance. “This is a kind of typical Umbrian landscape,” Anthony says.

I’m amazed by what they’re showing me on Skype. Not only is this the beautiful view from their home, it’s the beautiful view from their children’s classroom as well.

“I think most of the people around here know that we’re the English family who have three children,” Lehla says. “But I don’t know if they know they go to school or don’t go to school.”

Whether or not the local Italians know about Anthony and Lehla’s approach to schooling their kids, you can expect they would be quite intrigued. “The Italian schooling system is very rote-learning driven,” says Anthony, “it’s very structured.” Anthony and Lehla’s approach… is not.

Lehla and Anthony are English, but they’ve been “unschooling” their three children, Amari (11), Olive (11), and Jahli (9) in Italy since 2012. Lehla says her family’s approach is similar to self-directed learning, where “if kids want and need to learn, they learn.”

There’s no “typical” school day for the kids, Lehla says. But generally, they start their day by gathering for breakfast, before the kids all decide what they want to do. Sometimes they’ll do projects, read, go on Khan Academy, or check Big Questions on School in the Cloud. “They choose how they run their day,” says Lehla, “I follow them.”

Prior to engaging with this learning approach, Lehla says there seemed to be a “general unease and closing down of the kids’ spirits, energy levels, and enjoyment in life every time they were in a school setting.” So, she and Anthony explored ways they could school the kids instead.

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Big Questions | Children | Classrooms | Education | Italy | Self-directed Learning | Slavery | Unschooling | Writing

How do we remember and why do we forget?


  Author - School in the Cloud

  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:

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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

Greenfield Arts Ted Prize - feature image Sally Rix: Greenfield TED Prize Lab update

TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

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TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

Sally Rix: Greenfield TED Prize Lab update


  Author - School in the Cloud

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Greenfield Arts (Room 13)

  Location: Newton Aycliffe



Just before school broke up for the summer I visited the TED Prize lab at Greenfield Community College in County Durham. Their SOLE room – also known as Room 13 – opened in February of this year and I was curious to know how the children had found the first 5 months or so of their SOLE experience.

I was greeted by an absolutely delightful group of students, all of whom have had the opportunity to use the room quite regularly since it opened. I found their thoughts on the subject fascinating so I thought I’d share a selection of them here…

I’m curious about the room itself (it’s really beautiful!);

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Just before school broke up for the summer I visited the TED Prize lab at Greenfield Community College in County Durham. Their SOLE room – also known as Room 13 – opened in February of this year and I was curious to know how the children had found the first 5 months or so of their SOLE experience.

I was greeted by an absolutely delightful group of students, all of whom have had the opportunity to use the room quite regularly since it opened. I found their thoughts on the subject fascinating so I thought I’d share a selection of them here…

I’m curious about the room itself (it’s really beautiful!); I have done SOLEs in a traditional classroom setting and I wanted to know whether the students thought it was important to have a specific environment dedicated to the process.

It turns out they think it’s really important: “It’s more calming, more child-friendly” and “It’s better in the room, it’s more exciting.” Although there were questions too “But could it distract you? Like some people just want to mess around with the bunnies.”

When asked about whether the room would maintain its appeal over time they were honest about the novelty effect, “It depends how it’s kept, it needs updating every 6 months or something, then people won’t lose interest.”

One of the things that greatly impressed me was their sophisticated understanding of the concept of self-organised learning. When asked how the room was different to the rest of school they explained that,

“It’s independent. No teachers telling you what to do. You do it in your own way.”
“You’re given an objective and you get into groups. You can change groups.

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Education | Greenfield Arts | Room 13 | TED Prize