NRI education pioneer wins USD 1 mn TED prize

NRI education pioneer Sugata Mitra is known for his innovative "hole-in-the-wall" experiment to give computer education to slum children.

Washington: An NRI education pioneer, known for his innovative "hole-in-the-wall" experiment to give computer education to slum children, has been awarded with the prestigious USD 1 million TED prize.

Dr Sugata Mitra, a Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK, accepted the award - TED`s annual prize of USD 1 million that gives an exceptional individual the chance to conceive and launch a high-impact project.

After receiving the award, Mitra said he will use the prize to launch global initiative for self-directed learning releases toolkit for schools and families to create self-organised learning environments.

"My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online," Mitra said.

Mitra developed the concept of the Cloud from his 1999 "hole in the wall" experiment, in which he carved a hole from his research center into an adjoining Delhi slum.

He placed a freely accessible computer in this hole, and found that groups of street children, with no prior experience or knowledge of English, could teach themselves how to use the computer.

For the next ten years, Mitra expanded on his findings and created a "granny cloud" - online moderators of retired teachers - who could Skype into learning centers and encourage children with questions and assignments.

As a leading proponent of self-directed learning, Mitra developed the concept of SOLEs (Self Organised Learning Environments).

The SOLE approach embraces a process where educators ask the kids big questions, leading them on intellectual journeys rather than asking them to just memorize facts.