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School in the Cloud

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Last year in February 2013, Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk titled, “Build a School in the Cloud,” ended with a wish and a standing ovation. He spoke about how we should redesign the future of learning so that it can fit with jobs in the future, and to fix the education system that isn’t broken, but what is actually obsolete. The “School in the Cloud” would bring self-organized learning across all four corners of the Earth encouraging the love of learning and wonder in children.

“So what's my wish,” asks Sugata Mitra during his TED Talk? “My wish is that we design the future of learning. We don't want to be spare parts for a great human computer, do we? So we need to design a future for learning...My wish is to help design a future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their wonder and their ability to work together. Help me build this school. It will be called the School in the Cloud. It will be a school where children go on these intellectual adventures driven by the big questions which their mediators put in. The way I want to do this is to build a facility where I can study this. It's a facility which is practically unmanned. There's only one granny who manages health and safety. The rest of it's from the cloud. The lights are turned on and off by the cloud, etc., etc., everything's done from the cloud.

But I want you for another purpose” Mitra goes on to say. “You can do Self-Organized Learning Environments at home, in the school, outside of school, in clubs. It's very easy to do. There's a great document produced by TED which tells you how to do it. If you would please, please do it across all five continents and send me the data, then I'll put it all together, move it into the School of Clouds, and create the future of learning. That's my wish.”

A year later, in December 2013, Sugata Mitra got his wish. A group of students at the Killingworth School in the Cloud, located inside George Stephenson High School in Killingworth, England, are now able to explore questions with guidance from a retired teacher and volunteer member of the “Granny Cloud.”

The School in the Cloud allows the children to learn new things and explore whatever questions most intrigue them with added guidance. The kids learn, and retain more, in the “Self-Organized Learning Environment,” or “SOLE,” that integrates technology, puzzle solving, and the easy accessible resources of the Internet.

More than 40,000 people have downloaded the SOLE Toolkit to bring the method into their homes and classrooms, and Mitra hopes, with his $1 million TED Prize seed money, to open up a series of seven learning labs, two in the United Kingdom and five in India, with the Killingworth lab being the first.

“I believe strongly that this way of teaching — engaging students and inspiring wonder, and at the same time creating independence and self-motivation — has to be the way forward for education today,” said year seven instructor, Amy Dickenson, of the first learning lab in the School in the Cloud.

This not only changes the way we learn and redefines the classroom, but it says something about our current set up of the educational system and access to education in the digital age. I believe, without a doubt, the School in the Cloud will change the future of learning, and I believe that it is a wonderful thing. Making it easier, more affordable and more exciting to learn, while adapting to include what is necessary for life in the future, is really what reforming or reshaping the way we educate students is all about.

As technology changes, we develop new and interesting jobs, and advance as a civilization further into the future it just makes sense that we change and adapt the way we educate our younger generations to all of the changes that taking place.


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