This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)
Newcastle University, UK
School in the Cloud is an experiment in self-organised learning. It started with the Indian initiative ‘Hole in the Wall’ which placed computers in public places, particularly in regions with poor access to education and where most children had never seen a computer. As it turned out, the children intuitively began working with the computers, learned independently and taught each other how to use them – even without adult help.
This approach, called ‘minimally invasive education’, was further developed and culminated in School in the Cloud – a system that works anywhere in the world. School in the Cloud poses children with difficult questions – in some cases in languages that they do not understand – and then leaves them to work through the questions on the computer. Some of the solutions can be found very quickly, but others may involve complex issues that can take several months to solve. The interesting point here is that the children do not need a teacher in the traditional sense. However, they usually work better when they have at least one person at their side to support them. The initiative calls this the ‘grandmother method’: people who do not necessarily need to know anything about the subject under study watch over the children, praise and admire them and ask them questions.
Another important factor of self-organised learning is that the children do not sit alone in front of the computer, but work together, and discuss and develop common explanations. The aspects the children study range from subject-based issues to speculative questions such as ‘What would happen if you never ever made any memories?’ and ‘How long will humanity be able to live on this Earth?’