Head in the Clouds 

  
This was my view at sunrise (3am) above Everest where we ended the final leg of our Room 13 India project. Quite appropriate to finish the School in the Cloud India visit with my head well and truly in the clouds!

It has been a fantastic fortnight of SOLE, learning, sharing and exploring. In the process I have been places and experienced things I’d never have expect. 

Sugata and his incredible wife Sushmita have been so kind and generous letting me stay with them and taking me places so I can really understand the global picture of the work we are involved in. I don’t know where they both find the levels of energy you need to travel all of the time in the way they do. 

Ritu, India SinC co-ordinator, has also been outstanding and had us all stay at her place in Delhi so we could visit the Kalkaji lab amongst a few things. Sadly, due to the lack of water and the water shortage, the visit was unable to take place but we have spent a lot of wonderful time learning from each other and the experiences we have had back at home and during our trip. Her work there is incredible. 

Thank you to Suneeta too for organising a lot of the trip. It was no mean feat with over 50 international visitors from across the world arriving and leaving at different times. 

An incredible time and I look forward to sharing the experiences and learning with colleagues. 

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School in the cloud conference Phaltan 2016

Our conference day was in area 4 lab Phaltan, Pune. 

  
It brought together educators, co-ordinators, grannies, plus parents and children to share their experiences and their learning. The people who were present were from across the world including India, U.K., America, Germany, France, Dubai and Spain. It was a powerful day. 

  

It is quite incredible just how far Professor Mitra’s concept has reached and the impact it is making on people’s lives and education all over the world. It is amazing to be playing a role in that.  

  

We heard from all of the co-ordinators and we shared our story of Room 13 and the impact SOLEs has at Greenfield Community College and with many other schools we work with from many different places.

We heard from grannies and from the children themselves. It has been very touching to see the children and grannies meeting in person. There is a very special relationship there. Our students shared their thoughts in our new film (which will be posted soon!) I felt very proud to see them and David Priestley, our Executive Head, present with me at the conference even if only on screen!

Sugata closed the day. He talked about why seven labs and why we had been chosen plus the fact there are 3 non school 4 schools in the project. 

  

He described a new kind of comprehension that we don’t understand.

He told us about a story from each lab. 

  

Here is a summary: (from my understanding)

Chandrakona- there have been children there wanting to use YouTube but they couldn’t access it. They taught themselves how to download YouTube by you tubing a  video on how to down load a YouTube video, they then used YouTube to find out how to install a YouTube video and have used YouTube to recreate all sorts of things including YouTube for science experiments. They spoke about it in perfect English which they have also taught themselves.

  

Wow.

Sugata explained this is a new type of literacy

Is it metacognition? 

Gocharan- there are children there writing a coding programme. They have created a programme themselves that has produced a chat bot- a computer that answers your questions and is very imaginative in its answers. They skyped a granny at one point in this process which helped push them past a point and now they are creating even more and it is spreading across the group. 

  

Sugata explained that other young people are watching, now making and want to make even better programmes!

Kalkaji- has developed huge aspirations in the young people. We heard a video from an amazing girl called Jaya. I can’t wait to meet her this week! 

Korakati-although the Internet can be a challenge there the granny sessions are making a huge difference. You can see confidence growing in such a remote place that has so little. 

  

Phaltan- SOLE and English has happened by itself. It was amazing to spend the day with them. They are wonderful. The school was so welcoming.

  

Greenfield-Sugata discussed an experiment he did with us using gcse questions and the challenge of assessment. He will be exploring this further (watch out for a blog on this too!) 

  

GSHS- Sugata explained an experiment he has done and how spelling could have got in the way but described how Google helps suggests things which helps some students get past that. It just happens. 

His overview: (from my understanding)

He talked about the need for new assessment systems, continuous and more open ended. 
The spontaneous order of chaos we have seen – can happen. You just need freedom and bandwidth. 
Reading, writing and arithmetic are a lower priority. Comprehension, communication and computation are the new skills 
Things we don’t know attract us all. Let’s create a curriculum of big questions. 

 

He went on to explain we have a ‘Just In case’ education . We need a ‘Just In Time’ learning. When you need to know you find out quickly and correctly. 

Sugata also highlighted the need to teach the Internet as a subject. We should understand networks and chaos theory- how do stock markets work? Etc.
He explained that soon you won’t be able to tell if young people are using the Internet (eg in their glasses) almost half human and half Internet! 
He emphasised that we really do need teachers- but how do we handle these future things?

India-the remote parts…

We have travelled to some remote places on our trip-Korakati has to take 1st prize! 

It is a village with 8000 people but has very little in terms of ‘modern’ facilities. 

   
 
The school in the cloud lab has brought the Internet and with it has opened up a whole new world of possibility for the children there. 

It was a delightful welcome after such a fantastic and memorable 5 hour journey (by car, by boat, by rickshaw type vehicle). 

  
  

The children sang, danced and gave us handmade gifts. They had made beautiful origami frogs and flowers that they had previously taught themselves via you tube in the SOLEs lab! Once the introductions were finished it was clear how keen they were get on as they took their shoes off and actually ran inside!

  

  
  

One of the beautiful moments came when ‘grannie Lesley’ had a group gather around her to read a story and one of the boys read with Lesley, in English, to the others. They have been asking questions over Skype for 2 years together but also like to read together too. This was the first time they had met in person. It was a magic moment. The English the children have picked up too is remarkable. 

  

We had a fascinating presentation from my counter part in Korakati. It helped understand some of the successes and some of the challenges in their context in this lab. A lot we share (but not the snakes!)

  

  

Thank you to the children, families, co-ordinators at Korakati for making such a special day. 

SOLEs on tour

Arrived in Kolkata, India and am blown away by the place. It is the main base for our SOLEs tour/SinC lab visits this February. We also have the international conference in Phaltan, Pune. 

I’m staying with Sugata and Sushmita who are being so kind to me. It is also Sugata’s birthday. He seemed to love the Tiny Book of Big Questions gift I had hand made for him. 

It has been wonderful to spend time getting to know people so far that I have felt I already knew but to actually meet in person. 

I also met Ashis at SinC headquarters office in Kolkata today and hear all about the challenges of the builds, completion and progress of the labs there. Was good to hear it all in so much detail. 

We’ve had a lovely meal this evening and a chance for those who have arrived already to chat together. Really enjoyed spending some time with Ritu in particular. A kindred spirit I think. 

  

Nearly birthday time…!

Room 13 will be 2 years old! 

So our Room 13 Ted Prize lab opened on 13th Feb 2014 and all sorts of amazing and unexpected things have happened.

So much learning!

“It’s not about making learning happen, it’s about letting it happen”- Sugata Mitra. 

One of the most powerful and rewarding things for me is the understanding the engine heads have developed and language they have found to express and reflect upon how they learn. They have flourished in a learning environment that has allowed that to happen. 

It is so powerful as they make meaning for themselves and know how to apply their capabilities to any situation/context. 

They are also amazing advocates for this and I’m looking forward to extending this further and providing even more opportunities for more learners. 

To celebrate our 2nd birthday, and to extended our experiences and develop learning further, we have commissioned artists Nicola Golightly and Laura Degnan to help us. 

  
We are making two gorgeous products. A tiny book of big questions and a short film from the engine heads. Looking forward to sharing this with you.