When Sugata Mitra gives you an assignment, you can be pretty sure he’s not going to be impressed with a cut and paste from the Internet.
But it’s not as daunting as it might seem: students report that you simply have to think for yourself, look at things from a different perspective and the rest just fits into place, SOLE-style!
Hilary Meehan, who has just finished a Masters in International Development and Education at Newcastle University, knows this first hand. When asked to tell the story of the Granny Cloud as part of Sugata’s Future of Learning module, she knew she was going to have to push the boundaries a little. “Sugata said he didn’t want a traditional write up,” she says. “He simply told us ‘don’t make it boring’, and didn’t give any more guidance than that.”
She realised most of the students were either doing videos or voice-over slide shows and wanted to do something different, so decided to “go for it” and record a song instead.
Fortunately, her boyfriend is a musician and just happens to have a recording studio in his house. Once she’d bought the rights to the backing track,the lyrics and melodies soon fell into place.
There should be a bit of prior warning, however, before you listen to the track below. “The tune gets seriously stuck inside your head,” says Hilary.“One of the tutors on the course loved it but said he couldn’t shake it for the rest of the day. I hadn’t thought about it in ages until just now and I’ve realised it’s still in there, going round and round!”
The 25-year-old used information from the Granny Cloud blog, School in the Cloud website, and also chatted to one of the ‘grannies’ on Skype, to piece together the chronological story of this dedicated group of volunteers and how they approach their sessions.
Hilary, who is originally from Calgary in Canada, has enjoyed being in England so much that she’s just got a job here as an HR policy and research advisor for Durham University. “The course was a big part of the draw to study in England initially – as well as the fact my boyfriend lived here,” she says. “The four- week placement in Delhi, India, where the Hole in the Wall first began, also really appealed to me and was a fantastic experience.”
And did the song impress the tutors? It certainly did: she got a distinction.
Have you got an unusual SOLE story to share with the School in the Cloud community? If so, let firstname.lastname@example.org know!
Granny Cloud lyrics
Who’s a coach, a helper, family and a friend?
Who has compassion and some extra time to spend?
Who’s fun, patient, and ready to help out?
Grandmothers of course, and Skype Grannies in the Cloud!
It’s easy to have a Granny showing kids the right direction
All you need is a computer and an Internet connection!
From India to England, France to Pakistan
All around the world, Grannies show kids, yes they can!
It started with a computer, set in a hole in the wall
And children learned to use it, without any help at all
Now we’ve got a cloud school, and self-organising learning
And through mediated chaos, Grannies keep the wheels turning
Grannies ask big questions, like why is the ocean blue?
Why do your teeth fall out? Why are elephants so huge?
They like to share stories about their countries and their homes
They tell about traditions, of monuments, of snow!
A Granny’s not a teacher they don’t control the conversation
They offer reinforcement, help and admiration
The children help decide what to talk about each day
They learn new words or songs, or about new games to play
Not all Grannies are grandmothers they are moms and brothers too
Nurturing and caring, they’ve got the right attitude
Aunty, dad, or sister, they want children to succeed
Encouragement and guidance, that’s what children really need!
Grannies have so much to offer, children want so much to learn
Children’s eyes can be opened to new parts of the world
Sharing knowledge and caring, it’s a beautiful thing
Watch the work they’re doing, it will make you want to sing
It’s difficult to guess what the Granny’s future holds
But technology spreads fast, with so much knowledge to behold
It’s likely now that people all around the world
Will join in the community and make their voices heard