Site: UK Lab 2 – Greenfield Arts, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham
The centre has undergone a major transformation to include two new creative spaces that provide a social area for independent learning by students and the wider community, as well as helping with Sugata’s on-going research.
Designed to be very different to a normal classroom, Room 13 has an ‘outdoor feel’ – including artificial grass – and unusual seating and decoration to make it an attractive and social space to spend time in.
It is run by a group of students called The Engine Heads, who are responsible for driving things forward in the SOLE and helping to share knowledge about how Room 13 can be used to experience a new way of learning.
Katy Milne, Director of Arts and Creativity at Greenfield, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to continue this global research and development into enquiry-based approaches to learning here at Greenfield Arts. It’s a chance to learn above and beyond the curriculum, helping to ignite a curiosity for learning, and that’s what makes it really exciting.”
Greenfield Arts works together with Greenfield Community College and students there have been part of Sugata’s research for several years.
The Greenfield Arts lab opened in February 2014.
Read the Room 13 blog
Site: UK Lab 1 – George Stephenson High School, North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear
The world’s first School in the Cloud opened its doors at George Stephenson High School.
Students designed the interior of this one-room learning lab – which has colourful beanbags scattered throughout and fluffy clouds painted on the walls.
This lab is run by a group of students called The Committee, who manage a schedule to let different classes and groups use the lab in time slots before, during and after school. They also meet regularly to develop a Big Question curriculum to assist teachers across all subjects to deliver SOLE sessions.
Amy-Leigh Hope, Head of Design and Art at George Stephenson High School, was inspired by Sugata’s approach following a talk about his work by their headteacher. After discovering that his self-organised learning methods had not really been tried in secondary schools before, she set about testing them with Year 7 with help and support Sugata, finally extending this up to Year 13.
“The idea of thinking about your subject in ‘big questions’ and letting children take ownership of the lesson really gets them engaged,” she says. “When they work in groups of four there’s less chance to opt out and they naturally self correct each other, helping to develop not only their literacy and understanding but also good social skills.”
The SOLE, which opened in November 2013, is also available for the local community and nearby primary schools to use.
Read the TED blog about the opening.
Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University.
His “Hole in the Wall” experiments, begun in 1999, revealed that groups of children can learn almost anything by themselves given Internet access and the ability to work collaboratively. He developed this original idea into the SOLE [the Self Organised Learning Environment] approach, reaching out to children with minimal or no educational opportunities, in remote corners of the globe.
He has driven research into making this approach part of mainstream education. At TED2013, Sugata Mitra made a bold TED Prize wish: to revolutionize the future of learning. The School in the Cloud is making this possible with self-organised learning and Sugata’s methodologies at its heart.
Whilst Sugata has home bases in Newcastle, UK and West Bengal, India, his ideas are having an impact world-wide.