Knowledge

Prof Sugata Mitra has shared his concepts, methods, experiences and learnings in a series of interesting books, here they are!

Anjana Deepak
Prof Sugata Mitra has shared his concepts, methods, experiences and learnings in a series of interesting books, here they are!

Prof Sugata Mitra, the man known for changing the definition of education from classroom learning to self-learning, has detailed his concepts, methods, experiences and learnings in a series of interesting books.

From the approach of Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs), where children control their own learning much as they did from his experiment Hole in the Wall, to the future of learning, these books make excellent reading for an insight into his unconventional and exciting philosophy. They also inspire educators to borrow his ideas and replicate them in their own environments.

1

The Hole In The Wall: Self Organising Systems In Education
Author:
Sugata Mitra

The book traces the events that led to the discovery that children can learn to use a computer on their own, irrespective of who or where they are. Starting from a lecture in Goa to the slums and villages all over India and Cambodia, the book describes one of the largest experiments in primary education and its unusual findings.

Review:

Dan Becker
“Great story and research about what kids who have no previous exposure to computers can figure out all on their own. Just give them access to the technology and they can achieve great things together. Should be mandatory reading for every teacher who's been told to use computers in education - right up there with Seymour Papert's Mindstorms. 

This book is also a great example of human-centered design research and implementation. 

There's a sequel, Beyond the Hole in the Wall, and a TED talk too - I haven't read or seen them yet, but they're both on my list now.”

2

Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning
Author:
Sugata Mitra

Ten years ago, educator Sugata Mitra and his colleagues cracked open a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed a networked PC, and left it there for the local children to freely explore. What they quickly saw in their Hole in the Wall experiment was that kids from one of the most desperately poor areas of the world could, without instruction, quickly learn how the PC operated.

The children also freely collaborated with each other, exploring the world of high-tech online connectivity with ease. It was the dawning of Mitra’s introduction to self-organized learning, and it would shape the next decade of his research. This important update on Mitra’s ground breaking work (which provided the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire) offers new research and ideas that show how self-directed learning can make kids smarter and more creative. He also provides step-by-step instruction on how to integrate it into any classroom. It’s an important lesson that could reshape our schools and reinvigorate our educational system.

The book has a foreword by Nicholas Negroponte, founder of both MIT's Media Lab and the One Laptop per Child Association.

Reviews:
Jennifer

“Just discovered these TED books. I was thrilled that this one was in the bookshelf because I have seen two of the author's inspirational and witty TED talks. Really exciting stuff about how learning can happen with curiosity and technology as an enabling tool. Astounding that one computer per 4 students is so much more worthwhile than one per student, as peer tutoring can happen. 

The author placed a computer with mouse and keyboard and an internet connection in the slum side of the wall of his New Delhi office, and offered no input whatsoever to children there. Within 28 minutes on average, these kids were using the mouse, navigating the web and investigating email. They had never seen a computer before, spoke no English, and had no extrinsic motivation. One of the first sites they visited once they had learned how to navigate was an English Alphabet site to try to understand the websites they were looking at.

The kids taught each other, and their skills were measurable and consistent as the program expanded through India and the world. Amazing. The kids organised themselves and learning happened more effectively than in the best schools with qualified teachers. The implications for education are incredible.

Next, Mitra started working in schools. He decided to try some gentle direction and structure. He set up Indian students with an English voice recognition computer and told them to make the computer understand them. By the time he checked the results, they were speaking with British accents!

A few years down the track, and Mitra decided to try the impossible - he had Tamil non-English speaking students able to answer bioengineering questions in English within a short time. 

This is a must read for teachers and all those interested in learning. It is riveting and entertaining to boot!”

George:
“Is formal education, as we know it, an outdated idea? That last question is the central focus of this book.

Once again, another cogent glimpse at the future of childhood education, from TED books. This one, Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Leaning, argues convincingly of the value of a Self-Organized Learning Environment, where kids learn from interacting in small groups in front of computers. Perhaps some form of cross between SOLEs and the Kahn Academy approach will prevail.

One thing that this book proffers, with which I am in total accord—kid’s stand to benefit from watching TED talks videos and researching and discussing topics of interest, they find there, in small groups of their peers.

Recommendation: This small book offers some large ideas to consider, for anyone interested in the future of learning. Read it, and introduce your kids to TED Talks videos.

3

The Future of Learning
Author:
Sugata Mitra 

A renowned pedagogue expounds the new trends regarding the educational system that will forever alter the way we teach children. He starts by criticizing the old way of teaching that has its roots in the Enlightenment and western imperial expansion. This old method is constantly becoming more obsolete with the advent of the internet and explosion of information. The new paradigms of education stem from self-learners and their pursuit to solving problems. Knowing may be obsolete. Teachers have a new role to play; they build questions instead of seeking answers.

Sugata is famously known for his Hole in the Wall experiment that proves that Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE) develops learners for the new century. He ends his talk by disclosing the challenge of assessment and how it can be fixed.

Reviews:
Tata Blanco

“Maravilloso!!!! The future of education? There is no future for teachers and classrooms, but there is to learning! The case of self-learners who organise themselves and learn anything...epic!”

4

Introduction to Multimedia Systems (Communications, Networking and Multimedia)
Author: Sugata Mitra, Editor: Gaurav Bhatnagar

Introduction to Multimedia Systems is designed to be a general introduction to the broad field of multimedia... more specifically digital interactive multimedia. The editors have included topics such as the principles of "multiple" and "media," including sound, two-dimensional and three-dimensional graphics, animation, and text. All of these elements are stitched together by the programmer, or multimedia designer, based on the conceptualization of the designer.

In order to take full advantage of the potential for a wide array of multimedia applications it is important to have a broad understanding of the principles of various media. The person preparing a multimedia "package," which may include such media as sound, computer graphics, and software, will most likely have a strong background in only one or perhaps none of the media to be used. Introduction to Multimedia Systems has been developed to be the first place to turn, both as an introductory textbook or as a professional reference for anyone diving into multimedia preparation. Multimedia is first and foremost a medium of communication. In order to take advantage of the nearly unlimited potential provided by digital environments a full survey of multimedia capabilities is covered in this book.

Website Feature: Learning by doing! The editors currently use the book in combination with a wide array of sample software and weblinks for students to learn how to build by example. Each part of the book will have a direct link to a publicly accessible website that will maintain these available software tools. The weblinks will be updated as software versions advance, and most of the software involves demo or scaled down versions of commercially available multimedia design software/editing tools.

This is a carefully written and edited book specifically designed to be a general introduction to the broad field of multimedia and covers all the general topics of multimedia namely the principles of 'multiple' and 'media', including sound, 2D and 3D graphics, animation and text


5

Q&A
Author: Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup’s book Q&A was inspired by Prof Sugata Mitra’s experiments which are based on the fact that learning doesn’t have to come from classrooms and that a person can be self-taught.

Swarup’s spectacular debut novel opens in a jail cell in Mumbai, India, where Ram Mohammad Thomas is being held after correctly answering all twelve questions on India's biggest quiz show, Who Will Win a Billion? It is hard to believe that a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper or gone to school could win such a contest. But through a series of exhilarating tales Ram explains to his lawyer how episodes in his life gave him the answer to each question.

Ram takes us on an amazing review of his own history - from the day he was found as a baby in the clothes donation box of a Delhi church to his employment by a faded Bollywood star to his adventure with a security-crazed Australian army colonel to his career as an overly creative tour guide at the Taj Mahal.

Vikas Swarup's Q&A is a beguiling blend of high comedy, drama, and romance that reveals how we know what we know - not just about trivia, but about life itself. Cutting across humanity in all its squalor and glory, Vikas Swarup presents a kaleidoscopic vision of the struggle between good and evil - and what happens when one boy has no other choice in life but to survive.

The book was loosely adapted for the 2008 British drama film Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle. A sleeper hit, it also won 8 Academy awards.

This article was published in our April 2018 special issue dedicated to Prof. Sugata Mitra and his work.

(Sources: Goodreads.com)

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