Welcome to SOLE Central, a global experiment into self-organised learning environments (SOLEs).
Rethinking the future design of education
We're aiming to rethink the design of education by:
- exploring themes within the SOLE framework and expansion of them into new areas
- influencing and enabling changes in education environments worldwide
- exploring findings and developing policy reports
- engaging in dialogues with policymakers to overcome barriers and jurisdictions
- disseminating findings through publications, journals and conferences
- engaging with existing stakeholders and expanding the profile of SOLE
The story so far ...
Professor Sugata Mitra's journey from the initial Hole in the Wall to The School in the Cloud is a fascinating one.
Hole in the WallHole in the Wall
Professor Sugata Mitra was chief scientist at NIIT in Delhi, India, when he set up a ‘hole in the wall’ in 1999.
He knocked through his office wall to install a computer. It was accessible to the adjoining slum.
New way of learning
It was an instant hit with groups of Indian street children. They learnt how to use the computer and Internet by themselves in a few hours.
More experiments in remote villages and North East England defined a new way of learning. This is called minimally invasive education.
Sugata found no limit to children’s capacity to learn while unsupervised and working in groups to solve a problem.
From its humble beginnings in a Delhi slum, this idea has gathered pace. It has captured people’s imaginations all over the world.
The hole in the wall experiments even inspired Vikas Swarup’s novel Q&A.
This was the basis of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Sugata admits he would rather it was called 'Slumdog Laureate!'
The School in the CloudThe School in the Cloud
Ten years after the first hole in the wall, Sugata discovered another important aspect. He placed a computer in the middle of a remote village called Kalikuppam in Tamil Nadu.
Sugata loaded it with molecular biology educational material in English. He then left the children to get on with it.
The children there could speak no English and lived amid some of the worst conditions in the world. When he returned, months later, he tested them and found they got 30% of his molecular biology questions right.
But Sugata wanted the children to be able to pass – to get 50%. He went away again, but asked an older girl, who knew the children, to encourage them.
The next time they did the test, they passed.
Sugata realised SOLEs were missing a vital ingredient. That was an encouraging adult on the sidelines.
With this in mind, he put out a call for retired UK teachers willing to give up an hour of their time a week. He hoped they would share stories and talk to the children in India.
This became self-organised mediation environments (SOMEs) – now better known as the Granny Cloud. Children interact with online 'Grannies' to engage in a wide range of informal activities.
When he won the $1m TED Prize in 2013, Sugata was able to create The School in the Cloud.
This brought together the research to date, linking the SOLEs and the Granny Cloud, to create an online community. This community enables ideas and children from all over the world to come together in a creative environment.
SOLE Central is home for The School in the Cloud.
It brings together cutting-edge research and practice about self-organised learning environments. This comes from within the University and beyond.