One of the highlights of the ALT-C conference this year was the keynote by Sugata Mitra, whose famous ‘hole-in-the-wall’ projects in India, Cambodia and Africa have provided astounding evidence of how children can teach themselves, given access to a computer with an internet connection and little or no structured guidance from any adults. Children, it seems, have a remarkable ability to transcend language barriers and lack of technical know-how, in their desire to satisfy their curiosity.
One of the most interesting aspects of Sugata’s research into how children teach themselves is his focus on ‘self-organising systems’, particularly the systems that emerge when children are left to their own devices to find information to solve a problem – for example, how the labour is divided up, and how each child’s strengths are brought into play. He has found that, whether in rural India or suburban England, optimal results are obtained when children work in groups of four around a single computer.
We at Beyond Distance are thrilled that Sugata has accepted our invitation to be a keynote speaker at our next Learning Futures Festival (13-15 April 2011), ‘Follow the Sun’. As Emma has mentioned, this non-stop 48-hour online conference, hosted in collaboration with our colleagues in USQ, promises to be a great opportunity for knowledge sharing across the globe. It will be organised and managed along the same lines as the hugely successful LFF 2010, one of the projects for which our colleague Terese Bird was Highly Commended in the ALT-C Learning Technologist awards last week.
Thanks to Mark Gregory for the picture. (More ALT-C photos available here.)
Gabi Witthaus, 16 Sept 2010