Sugata Mitra: Kids Teaching Kids

What is learning?
According to Richard E. Mayer, a professor of psychology at the University of California, we are still “trying to figure out how learning works”. He calls our attempt the “science of learning“. I agree with Mayer. As an educator, my role is to help people learn. But how do I do that? How do I facilitate learning? Mayer and most teachers claim that we can help people learn through instruction and assessment.

What does a teacher do?
Teaching is viewed as the transfer of information from the teacher to the student. The result of the transfer is learning. I have been called a teacher for over 30 years. However, I have never felt that my students learned because of my teaching. In fact, in 1978, I told a grade 11 class that I couldn’t teach them English, but that they could learn it. I continued and shocked them even more when I said, “in fact, I can’t teach you anything”. The next day, the principal called me in and reprimanded me for saying such things. Apparently, the kids and their parents were outraged. The principal asked me to apologize to the kids and never say such things again.

Was I right or wrong? Can students learn on their own? If you believe that teachers are essential for learning, you will find Applying the Science of Learning by Richard E. Mayer of great value. However, if you believe that learning can take place anywhere, at any time, and without the presence of a teacher, you will find the work by Professor Sugata Mitra, Ackoff & Greenberg, Eric Marcos, and kids teaching kids week in Australia of interest.

Kids Teaching Kids
Kids may learn best by teaching their peers.

Turning Learning Right Side Up
Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg in Turning Learning Right Side Up claim that it’s time we stopped focusing on teaching and paid more attention to learning. To get the gist of what they claim, listen to the following audio recording and article by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Is it possible to learn without a teacher?

According to the “hole-in-the-wall” experiments, kids can teach themselves when motivated to do so. In fact, in the studies conducted by Professor Sugata Mitra, the children not only taught themselves, but they taught their friends, too. The children learned because they were curious and wanted to know.

So what do people need in order to learn?

People need motivation, social learning, opportunities to teach and share information with friends, encouragement and technology. How does technology facilitate learning? If it’s that simple, why teaching still more popular with teachers than with students? Why are teachers doing most of the learning as Ackoff and Greenberg claim?

Learn more about the “hole-in-the-wall” and about using technology in remote areas of the world. Join, professor Sugata Mitra in a conversation on WizIQ conversation.

Join Dr. Nellie Deutsch and Dr. Kalyan Chattopadhyay in a live conversation with Professor Sugata Mitra. Professor Sugata Mitra is a visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab in Boston, MA, and a Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education for Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK.

Born in Calcutta, India, Dr. Sugata is famous for his “Hole-in-the wall” experiments such as the “Granny Cloud” project of volunteers. Professor Mitra was self-taught and has a firm belief that others can do the same through technology and the Internet.

The session will be conducted on August 31, 2012 at 12:00 pm (EST).


Dr. Nellie Deutsch is an education technology and curriculum consultant, faculty at Atlantic University in the MA transpersonal and leadership studies, teacher trainer, researcher, and writer. She organizes Moodle MOOCs and online conferences. She earned her doctorate in education and educational leadership with a specialization in curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix Her dissertation research (available on ProQuest & Amazon) focused on instructor experiences with integrating technology in blended learning contexts in higher education around the world. Nellie offers free teacher training courses on teaching with technology, action research and Moodle for teacher courses to new, veteran, and future teachers who wish to teach online, face-to-face or in blended learning formats. She also provides online courses to teachers and ICT people on how to be administrators of Moodle websites. She integrates Moodle and WizIQ live virtual classes in all her courses.

Comments

  1. Theresa Heary-Selah Says: September 1, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Hi there- There are so many wonderful possibilities with these ideas and this technology. I keep thinking though, of the research that suggests that when people work together without an articulated hierarchy, the order that develops is not necessarily the healthiest of orders- often resulting in the most powerful person (not the most logical nor the most generous) leading, and the meeker people are silenced. As teachers implement this technology, are there ways that they can prevent this dynamic from occurring?

    • Theresa, you have asked an excellent question about the role of a teacher if the teacher were to implement the hole-in-the-wall technology. I would like to ask you and others another question. What technology would you use in the physical or online classroom as a result of of the hole-in-the-wall experiments?

  2. Theresa Heary-Selah Says: September 1, 2012 at 7:25 am

    Hi there- There are so many wonderful possibilities with these ideas and this technology. I keep thinking though, of the research that suggests that when people work together without an articulated hierarchy, the order that develops is not necessarily the healthiest of orders- often resulting in the most powerful person (not the most logical nor the most generous) leading, and the meeker people are silenced. As teachers implement this technology, are there ways that they can prevent this dynamic from occurring?

    • Theresa, you have asked an excellent question about the role of a teacher if the teacher were to implement the hole-in-the-wall technology. I would like to ask you and others another question. What technology would you use in the physical or online classroom as a result of of the hole-in-the-wall experiments?

  3. Hi Janet, I love the idea of students going on to the next class to teach. There’s so much learning in that. I totally agree with you that using language whether in speaking and/or writing is a great way for teachers and students to encourage verbal communication. Have you documented your work in the classroom via video or image or writing? I would love to get a collection of audio, video or text files documenting what teachers do so I can share it with the world.

  4. Hi Janet, I love the idea of students going on to the next class to teach. There’s so much learning in that. I totally agree with you that uUsing language whether in speaking and/or writing is a great way for teachers and students to encourage verbal communication. Have you documented your work in the classroom via video or image or writing? I would love to get a collection of audio, video or text files documenting what teachers do so I can share it with the world.

  5. Students learn tons when they are teaching other students. One of the greatest ways to get technology in all classrooms is to teach one classroom. That classroom of students goes into another classroom and pairs up 1:1 to teach the next class (and so on).

    One of the great learnings: When you do not allow student “teachers” to touch another child’s computer or iPad, the “teacher” must use language to explain procedures or use their own device to model procedures. It does wonders for students’ language skills.

  6. Students learn tons when they are teaching other students. One of the greatest ways to get technology in all classrooms is to teach one classroom. That classroom of students goes into another classroom and pairs up 1:1 to teach the next class (and so on).

    One of the great learnings: When you do not allow student “teachers” to touch another child’s computer or iPad, the “teacher” must use language to explain procedures or use their own device to model procedures. It does wonders for students’ language skills.

  7. Join Sugata Mirta in a conversation on WizIQ on Friday August 31, 2012. Read more about the event on the blog.

  8. Join Sugata Mirta in a conversation on WizIQ on Friday August 31, 2012. Read more about the event on the blog.

  9. Leo and others, Is it about teaching or learning? I feel that teachers spend more time on controlling students, the material, and themselves instead of on learning.

  10. Leo and others, Is it about teaching or learning? I feel that teachers spend more time on controlling students, the material, and themselves instead of on learning.

  11. How can we call ourselves teachers or ‘professors’ if we don’t even know what teaching is? Does teaching only involves giving instructions and assessments? We all know it requires much more than that. How about rapport? attention? care? ….?

  12. How can we call ourselves teachers or ‘professors’ if we don’t even know what teaching is? Does teaching only involves giving instructions and assessments? We all know it requires much more than that. How about rapport? attention? care? ….?

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