Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can Kids Teach Themselves?

Sugata Mitra (of the Hole In the Wall project) hints at an answer to this question in this talk delivered at the Lift Conference which was added to recently. (My inbox received no less than 5 emails over the last 24 hours from various people with the link to the video! It was also added to yesterday).

Sugata Mitra is convinced: "Children will learn to live together and learn together. They will come to know how to evaluate different points of view. Self-organizing learning systems will continuously evolve their own curricula and learning methods".

Mitra talks about the idea of self-organization. Examples of systems that are self-organizing are galaxies, molecules, cells, organisms and societies (these are "natural" systems), and traffic jams, stock-markets, terrorism, and internet-based self-organizing.

The BIG take-aways from his talk at the end (although I feel that these didn't jell completely with the rest of what he spoke) --
  1. Remoteness affects the quality of education (duh!)
  2. Educational technologies should be introduced in remote areas first (will this ever happen? Even the OLPC XO machine - despite best intentions - ended up being sold in the US market to "raise funds" for the project!)
  3. Values are acquired; doctrine and dogma are imposed (duh! again)
  4. Learning is a self-organizing system (small a-ha!)
To address these issues, he urges the design and development of educational technology and pedagogy that is digital, automatic, fault-tolerant, minimally invasive, connected and self-organized.

He leaves the audience with the question : Can "outdoctrination" be the goal of educational technology in the future? (That was a bit off at a tangent from the rest of the talk, I thought).

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