SCHOOL IN THE CLOUD: SUGATA MITRA’S NEW LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

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I have watched talk of Sugata Mitra about his school in the cloud. Before his experiment on such a kind school, he walked deeper in India and saw school in rural area. He saw everything is same in education; same buildings, same numbers of teacher in schools, etc. When he asked to the teachers if they would like to go anywhere else, the answer even the same; they don’t like to go anywhere. This is remoteness of India.

According to Mitra there is a way to solve this problem. He claims that students can learn on their own and without any teacher intervention. I agree with him in some cases of his this suggestion. As each student has their own learning style they should be put them in an environment in which they can act however they like and get essential information. In this case he is right, but I don’t agree with him about putting students in a teacher-free environment. Because teacher’s role in a free learning area should be guiding students to knowledge.

As I heard from his talk, Mitra doesn’t like school’ seating. In a normal school class students sit on their own chairs and write what teacher says or writes. But in Mitra’s school four or five students sit around a computer and search for something collaboratively. I strongly agree with him on this topic. The worst thing in our schools is discouraging our students to sit towards each other. One sits another one’s back and they never interact in lessons. So, Mitra’s group seating system should be applied in all schools.

In his experiment in India, Mitra gave a computer to children at age nine who didn’t know English and have never seen computer before. He aimed to find if children can learn to use computer on their own. And the answer was Yes. Children didn’t know English and using computer. They decided that they should learn English to learn use of computer. In that case, leaving students alone with material in learning environment gives them an aim to reach. Students may motivate by themselves to learn both English and computer by this way.

I am not sure about ‘I don’t have any idea’ pedagogy of Mitra because our pedagogic lessons all told us to give clear instructions to the students when we want to teach something. I don’t know if students can invent their own pedagogy as Mitra stated but they may success when they feel a necessity from their inside. Such kind of learning takes too much time and so doesn’t fit our curriculum, but it should fit. Mitra says examination should be done on the internet and with collaboration of students. I am agree with him on this claim. I can show tasks of my CALL course as internet-based examination. There is no teacher force and stress when I am completing my tasks. Such kind of examination should be applied for all subjects.

In Mitra’s cloud schools teachers are friends of the students and this collect all roles of the teacher into one: friend of students. When teacher works with students like their friends, students don’t feel any anxiety about being interrupted by an authority.

In most cases I agree with Mitra. He states that curricula around the world need to be revised to include the internet. With huge developments in the internet all students use it actively but school curricula doesn’t allow them to use it for pedagogic reasons. Because of a fear about broad area of usage of the internet. Teacher may fear if students work on something related to lesson or anything else. To change our misbelief towards internet we should put Mitra’s claim into practice.

To sum up, I can say Mitra is talking about something really different and spectacular issue on learning and teaching. He states his claims grounding on his experiments and so his claims are very serious. There are some points that he couldn’t find answers to them. I am waiting his next talk impatiently to get new news from him. The last thing I should say about Mitra’s experiment and his claims is my disagreement with his idea ‘learning happens when teacher isn’t the place of learning’. In my opinion, this is a dangerous idea about learning because teacher is building block of education and facilitator and guide of students’ learning. Learning cannot be thought without a teacher interval. Teacher -even in Mitra’s experiment- has a role to give students an interest and an aim to search for getting information.

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