Great ToolKit to Bring Self-Organized Learning Environments to Your Community

Great ToolKit to Bring Self-Organized Learning Environments to Your CommunitySugata Mitra is a professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University, U.K. he has been awarded with $1 million in seed-funding for his wish to design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world and creating opportunities for them to work together.

Sugata recognizes the fact that it is not only the poor children who can benefit from the use of Internet, but teachers around the world today are using what he calls, SOLE: Self Organized Learning Environments. In these environments, children group around Internet-equipped computers to indulge in discussions, and the teachers work in the background to see learning happen. To foster learning through this approach, Sugata has launched a SOLE toolkit, which is designed to empower teachers and parents to create their own spaces to ignite children’s curiosity to learn. He wants to see more educators trying this future-oriented pedagogical tool and share their insights about it.

You can create your own SOLE environment, by downloading the SOLE toolkit . This article will provide you a review of the SOLE toolkit by Sugata Mitra. Specifically designed for teachers and parents this toolkit provides you with a step-by-step guide to bring self-organized learning environments for your children at home, school or at after school programs. Teachers and parents play an important role in teaching their children how to think and allowing them to develop by satisfying their curiosities. The SOLE approach lays down a process in which kids learn how to ask questions which help in realistic and innovative thinking. SOLE is created when teachers and parents encourage kids to work as a community to find answers to their own questions by using the Internet.

The basic parameters of this approach are:

It is designed for children aged 8-12, who select their own groups of four to work in and also choose their own questions to explore.

Children can change groups anytime.

Children can learn from what other groups are doing and take the information to their own group.

Children can move around freely.

Children can have discussions within their groups and also with other groups.

Participants can tell their friends about their learning from SOLE.

There are a number of benefits which teachers, parents and students can derive from using SOLE at home, school or at after-school programs.

Children at home or school: Can take ownership of their learning, improve reading skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities, memory, interpersonal skills, develop trusting relations with their adults and teachers and be motivated to become life-long learners.

Educators and parents: Can get better at asking questions, understand what children are most interested in, develop connections at an equal level, encourage children by telling them about more ways to learn on their own.

At home: Parents can actively participate in their own learning, create a culture of curiosity, expand what kids have already learnt at school and strengthen their connection with children.

At school or after-school programs: Encourage children to learn independent thinking, experience more invigorated and experienced classrooms, learn through collaboration, create more intergenerational admiration and understanding.

To make the most out of the SOLE experience, you need to develop the SOLE mindset. Your approach should be child-driven to motivate kids by their own choices and interests to facilitate self-directed learning, collaborative to make kids learn socially so they develop social skills, curious so that kids develop their own understanding of what they already know, open-minded by making the environment flexible, where they can experiment, unlearn beliefs and assumptions and make mistakes, transformative so children can think critically and learn quickly, encouraging by being a witness and supporter, internet will give them the answers to any questions but encouragement helps them to be resilient and solve  problems, patient to become comfortable with the new technique and for children to adapt to a new way of learning.

You can set up your own SOLE space at school or home. For a set-up at school you’ll need a large screen computer per 4 kids, whiteboard/blackboard to write questions, paper and pens for kids to take notes, nametags for fun. At home, you’ll require a laptop or desktop per group of 4 children, paper and pens and optionally a webcam, microphone, creative software for music, video and communication. Once you’ve set up your SOLE space, you need to plan your SOLE to adjust your schedule, space and community. You should decide on the time required for a question, its investigation and review. The time required for review and feedback may vary depending on the complexity of the question posed during the investigation period and the answers the kids collect.

Once you have completed your SOLE, please share your feedback . Your challenge is to test the SOLE method with students in your school, home or after-school program and to share what you learn with TED in the form of a blog post. Up to three winning submissions selected by Sugata.

SOLE encourages you to open your mind and teach through process instead of content. It makes you explore student interests to facilitate a more student-focused learning. Explore the SOLE toolkit and be a part of this initiative by providing your feedback. Share your views about this with us. The Comment Box awaits you.

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About the Author
Author: Saomya Saxena
Educational technology blogger, loves to research and write about tools and tips for educators on how to integrate technology into everyday instruction creatively and effectively. Fond of reading and writing.

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