Sugata Mitra: supporting student's autonomy in education

What happens if you put a computer attached to a wall in a slum? One researcher did this in New Delhi, India, and the result was that the children of the community, who had never had any contact with it before, began to learn new things – without any help.

Sugata Mitra was born in Bengali and is an education scientist at the University of Newcastle, England. After the first experiment in New Delhi, he and his research team raised money to do something similar in other parts of India and South Africa. No matter the locality, the result was always the same. A group of children even recorded a song after only 4 hours of contact with the equipment.

Another element of the Mitra method was the “grandmother” factor. He put the children in front of a computer with biotechnology information and applied a test.There was only one person by their side, who said words of encouragement such as: “How cool is that, can you do it again?” or “Congratulations on doing it!”. The result was an increase of right answers in the test from 30% to 50% in two months.

Sugata Mitra created, from these experiments, the so-called SOLES (Self Organizing Learning Enviroment). These are kiosks that provides students access to a computer with internet so that they can connect with teachers from all around the world via Skype.

Even under guidance, when the freedom to look for information is offered to young people, learning goes beyond expectations.

You can find out more about Mitra’s discoveries in his TED Talk.

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