Disrupt the default in education

Martha Pietruszewski

Learning has evolved greatly since the time of the British Empire. We are no longer passing on information by ships. Instead, information is at the tips of our fingers at any given moment.

Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University, proposed a radical solution to education reform in a 2013 TED talk. He wanted to create a “school in the cloud” that would dismantle the current education system as we know it. I propose we help create the self-organized learning environments that he envisioned.

The goal behind schools in “the cloud” and self-organized learning environments is that anyone, no matter their background, can learn almost anything by themselves.

However, with such an idea, we are losing the structure that many learning-disabled students might need.

On Nov. 10, Newcastle University launched SOLE Central, which aims to lead research for developing self-organized learning environments. These environments aim to connect schools in the cloud with actual students.

While Mitra and his team are on the right track, I doubt that one center will make a large impact, as this is such a new area of research.

However, this research should continue. Through his experiments, Mitra found that self-learning is beneficial. He concluded that children will eventually “learn to learn.” They will congregate in groups and eventually take off and teach themselves.

Mitra hopes that instead of 10-year-olds answering basic questions about reading, they will be able to understand the big questions of “How did the world begin?” and “How will it end?”

Oh, how the times are a-changing.