The work that Sugata Mitra is doing on self regulated learning is amazing. Mitra’s research in “Hole-In-The-Wall” experiments in India has show that students in the most challenging environments can and do learn in self organized learning environments. Based on the results of his research he has developed a website called School In The Cloud, which allows people to connect with students in self organized learning environments all over the world. Take a few minutes and look at the links, you will be impressed! Today’s blog post is based on this article:
Mitra, S., & Dangwal, R. (2010). Limits to self-organising systems of learning—the Kalikuppam experiment. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 41(5), 672-688. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01077.x
Take the time to read this article – it is very interesting and talks about something that is developing right here in Oklahoma – self regulated learning. Mitra placed two computers in a small rural village in southeast India. He was very particular with his choice of location and what he did there:
- Students and teachers in the surrounding area needed to be unfamiliar with molecular biology.
- Local school was not taught in English and English was seldom used in the community.
- In a “Hole-in-the-wall” computer, there was internet access and basic computer functions. This computer was available to everyone in the village and was placed in a public location.
- Selected some material from the internet for student to use to explore molecular biology.
- Mediators were chosen to encourage the children in the learning process – they had no knowledge of molecular biology and little understanding of the technology being used.
- Everything on the computer was in English. The people in this study spoke Tamil.
The “Hole-in-the-wall” computer was made available to everyone in the community, children were usually the ones using it. The use of the computer was not organized, people could come and go as they pleased. Students self-organized into small groups and spent around two hours a day exploring on the computer. Typically there was one student doing the clicking and two or three others observing and talking about what was happening.
Students were given a pre- and post test, then were given another post test to verify results statistically. Students were tested after 75 days on their own, then a mediator was introduced. The students were tested 75 days after this (150 days total). Results were compared with a government run school that was a few kilometers away and a private school from New Delhi. This comparison could be made because molecular biology is a standard that is required in India and the curriculum used is similar across the schools.
The students from the village, using the “Hole-in-the-wall” computer performed better than the students taking a similar course in rural government school a few kilometers away. They did not outperform the private school students, although the “Hole-in-the-wall” students were not far behind their more affluent peers.
Now take a look at what Chickasha High School is doing with their personalized learning campus. I am not aware of how this will be organized, but if done in a similar was to Mitra’s study then this could be fascinating to watch. An adult, encouraging students to explore more, seek more, find more can lead those students to incredible learning.