Dr. Sugata Mitra


A New Literacy

Since the 1990s, experiments with children’s education takes us through a series of startling results – children, in groups, can form ‘self-organising systems’ that results in emergent learning, they can achieve educational objectives on their own, can read by themselves. Finally, the most startling of them all: Groups of children with access to the Internet can learn anything by themselves. The mechanism of this kind of learning seems similar to the appearance of spontaneous order, or ‘emergent phenomena’ in chaotic systems.

From the slums of India, to the villages of India and Cambodia, to poor schools in Chile, Argentina, Spain, the USA and Italy, to the schools of Gateshead and the rich international schools of Washington and Hong Kong, Sugata’s experimental results show a strange new future for learning. A redefinition of ‘knowing’ and ‘literacy’.

Using the 2013 TED Prize, he has built seven ‘Schools in the Cloud’, where Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) and a ‘Granny Cloud’ of mediators over the Internet, interact with unsupervised children. The results of this three-year study are summarised by Sugata in this talk.

We begin to see what schools should be for and what curricular, pedagogic and assessment changes will be required in the future. We glimpse a New Literacy.

Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK and previously visiting professor at MIT.

For the last 25 years Dr Mitra has been researching children´s learning, the use and impact of Internet on learning and education and the effects of self organized learning in formal and informal contexts

In 2013 he was given the $1m TED Prize in recognition of his work and to help build a School in the Cloud, creative learning spaces where children from all over the world gather to answer ‘big questions’, share knowledge and benefit from help and guidance from online educators