EduTECH - Sugata Mitra on The Future of Learning

Mitra began his session acknowledging that many will have seen his talks, but many have not. He went on the set the scene, looking back at the demands of the Industrial Age.

Schools with their military-industrial-religious origins are outdated and obsolete.

The pedagogy will need to change if we want different outcomes. Will the old model crate creative children? This of course leads into the re telling of 'The Hole In The Wall' experiment. If you aren't familiar with this story, you can watch the TED Talk here:

It was lovely to here this story in person, particularly with personal anecdotes woven in. Children left alone with the Internet for 9 months will reach the same level of computer literacy as the standard secretary in the West. Which of course raise questions about the need or the role of the teacher. The children had changed. Their English was perfect and their work across the board improved? It turns out they had stumbled across a search engine and were quoting the Harvard Business Review. But was this learning?

In my opinion it is what it is - an interesting and powerful educational experiment. His experiment getting Tamil speaking 12 year olds to learn the biotechnology of DNA replication from a street side computer was again an interesting experiment. I still have questions about levels of deep learning and synthesis or is it rote learning and recall at the extreme?? I am not sure. In the past I have queried Mitra's work in light of my increasing understanding of the 'Hawthorne Effect' and 'Novelty Effect', particularly in the context of learning with devices. Can some of the gains be simply a result of the approach being a novelty or the subjects being aware that they are being observed? You can read my post about that here:

Personally, I love the work Mitra has done. I am wary that some of the gains are a result of the novelty and Hawthorne effect and that is okay. Personally I would take his work, add to it the thinking behind Google 20% time and the stunning stuff happening at Canada's self directed schools. I do think this is the directin we need to head in, but think we need to do it carefully. We need to understand what our new roles are as educators. I like Hattie's idea of 'Learning Activator' and I would add 'Learning Curator' and 'Learning Coach'. 


  1. I liked the way he moved to edge of chaos. The key word is edge = the structures that ensure rigour = demanding


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