Inspiring families to learn together


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: New Jersey



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mexico2 SOLE = Socratic Method 2.0

SOLE Mexico

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SOLE Mexico

SOLE = Socratic Method 2.0


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - SOLE Mexico

  Location: Mexico



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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLE México secured a state contract for training 100 teachers from extreme rural communities (including the middle of a jungle) and are now carrying out a follow-up programme where they visit each of the schools to help the teachers make SOLE an ongoing process.
mexico3

Oscar says the importance of a follow-up to teacher training shouldn’t be under-estimated. “SOLE in theory is great, but to take it over a school cycle where many teachers want it focussed on their curriculum and expect regular evaluation, you have to design it around great Big Questions,” he explains.

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

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

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Mexico | Rural Communities | Schools | Teacher Training

MagnaRautenbach3 Future leaders get lessons in SOLE

SOLE South Africa

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SOLE South Africa

Future leaders get lessons in SOLE


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - SOLE South Africa



“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist

Magna Rautenbach was ready to ‘semi retire’ with her husband to their tranquil country retreat – but then she discovered SOLE and everything changed.

After a rich and rewarding career, she had moved to a game farm near Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, in a region called the Magaliesberg Biosphere.*

And it was in this unlikely location that she discovered SOLE and made the connection with what she’d wanted to achieve in the business world for so long.

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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” – Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist

Magna Rautenbach was ready to ‘semi retire’ with her husband to their tranquil country retreat – but then she discovered SOLE and everything changed.

After a rich and rewarding career, she had moved to a game farm near Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, in a region called the Magaliesberg Biosphere.*

And it was in this unlikely location that she discovered SOLE and made the connection with what she’d wanted to achieve in the business world for so long.

Frustrated by the “too little, too late” approach to training management-level employees in sustainability, Magna realised SOLE could get the message across where it can make a real difference – at school.

The success of SOLE globally appealed to Magna and she immediately saw the possibilities for South Africa. She particularly liked that SOLE is both transformative and supportive of the current curriculum, knowing that education reform has a track record of stalling when attempts are made to change it.

She launched SOLE South Africa in April 2017 with little more than an idea, a website and a ‘moonshot mission’ to help create 2,030 future-ready leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers by 2030.

The biggest challenge is taking SOLE into underserved schools. There are a total of 25,574 schools in South Africa, with only 4,639 of those really well-established with computers and Internet connectivity. The majority, largely in rural, underserved areas, do not have any technology; some do not even have electricity.

To make SOLE accessible for the majority of children,

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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

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: 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

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

TED Lab - Phaltan

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TED Lab - Phaltan

Phaltan: two years on it’s an international affair


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - TED Lab - Phaltan

  Location: Australia



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

“Hands on heads. Now shoulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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Education | Phaltan

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

Project Hello World

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Project Hello World

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


  Author - Guest Blogger

  Partner(s) - Project Hello World



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

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

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

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

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

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

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Endless opportunities


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Location: Guatemala



Imagine a tiny computer that contains a wealth of knowledge, as easy to use as your mobile phone – you’ve just visualised the next big thing in the tech world.

Like many great ideas, Endless was the result of taking time to mull over an issue. Its founder and CEO Matt Dalio was traveling in Pune, India, when he observed that smartphones and televisions were literally everywhere. This led him to realise that if you take a smartphone processor and make the television the monitor then you could build the world’s first truly affordable, high-quality PC.

He made the same observations while traveling through Latin America and Southeast Asia,

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Imagine a tiny computer that contains a wealth of knowledge, as easy to use as your mobile phone – you’ve just visualised the next big thing in the tech world.

Like many great ideas, Endless was the result of taking time to mull over an issue. Its founder and CEO Matt Dalio was traveling in Pune, India, when he observed that smartphones and televisions were literally everywhere. This led him to realise that if you take a smartphone processor and make the television the monitor then you could build the world’s first truly affordable, high-quality PC.

He made the same observations while traveling through Latin America and Southeast Asia, but over time he realized that reducing the price of computers might not be enough. There are 2.5 billion people in the world who have access to computers, leaving 5 billion who do not and for over half of them, it’s not because they can’t afford it. Computers are expensive, but this isn’t the most important issue – in most locations people could get loans to pay for it and the cheapest laptop is now around $350.

Alejandro Farfán, General Manager for Endless Central America & Caribbean, takes up the story, explaining the three main barriers to emerging markets embracing computers. “Phones are intuitive and easy to use, where computers are not – for example, we had people saying to us ‘why do I need to double click on a computer when I can just do one click on my phone?’

“There was also a real fear of breaking it (the computer) if they didn’t know how to use it and so they weren’t prepared to make such a big investment just in case. And if you don’t have access to the Internet,

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Communities | Computers | emerging markets | Endless

paradisegoa2 A little bit of paradise

Paradise School Goa

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Paradise School Goa

A little bit of paradise


  Author - Sarah Cossom

  Partner(s) - Paradise School Goa

  Location: India



A new venture in rural Goa aims to transform how India approaches mainstream education.

Paradise School Goa’s director, Shilpa Mehta, was born and raised in the UK, re-locating to Goa when her daughter was just two-years-old. When India-Fire was of school age, she decided to set up her own local primary school. Shilpa’s approach to education has been influenced by Maria Montessori’s teaching, which she became interested in before she moved to India.

Now her daughter has turned 12, she’s taking on another educational challenge: to set up Paradise School Goa – a secondary school in a 400-year-old mansion based purely on Professor Sugata Mitra’s SOLE (self-organised learning environment) principles.

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A new venture in rural Goa aims to transform how India approaches mainstream education.

Paradise School Goa’s director, Shilpa Mehta, was born and raised in the UK, re-locating to Goa when her daughter was just two-years-old. When India-Fire was of school age, she decided to set up her own local primary school. Shilpa’s approach to education has been influenced by Maria Montessori’s teaching, which she became interested in before she moved to India.

Now her daughter has turned 12, she’s taking on another educational challenge: to set up Paradise School Goa – a secondary school in a 400-year-old mansion based purely on Professor Sugata Mitra’s SOLE (self-organised learning environment) principles.

The seed was sown for her latest venture while attending a conference in Jaipur as a Google Educator in 2015. She realised that schools could be communities of collaboration and support, not just places of mass instruction: this was the kind of school she wanted to set up.

When she discovered Professor Mitra’s TED talk shortly after, Shilpa felt it was ‘just like Montessori – but with computers’ and it spurned her on to create Paradise School Goa, with the aim of bringing SOLEs into mainstream education.

“SOLE is a very simple, but powerful idea,” she explains. “I just thought ‘this can really work – let’s go for it!’”

Shilpa met with Professor Mitra in the UK and told him her story. Inspired by his encouragement (he is an advisor to the school) and support from colleagues at SOLE Central in the UK, she is now a partner in Newcastle University’s dedicated SOLE research centre, helping to gather research data.

The school opened its doors in September, with the dedicated SOLE room officially opened by Sugata on 14th October 2016.

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Curriculum | Goa | India | School setting | Teaching