Of The Rural World, Technology, A School In The Cloud & Cyber Grannies!

With the internet providing educational materials for free, talks about the necessity of kids going to schools to learn anything has been a matter of discussion. But this would pertain mainly to kids in first world countries where home-schooling is a viable option. But in a country like India, huge population and child labor make it necessary to send kids to schools for education. Government of India has provided free and compulsory education for kids between the age groups of 6 – 14, but yet in most part of rural India, children are sent to school so that they get at least one sure meal a day.
Sugata MitraMinimally Invasive Education is one way that technology has advanced in teaching children. It is a kind of learning where children operate technology in unsupervised environment to learn by themselves. This was developed after an experiment by Sugata Mitra at NIIT in 1999. The idea commonly called as Hole in the Wall was tested first at Delhi and had garnered positive results.
The Experiment: On 26 January 1999, Professor Mitra’s team carved a “hole in the wall” that separated the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Through this hole, a freely accessible computer was put up for use. This computer proved to be popular among the slum children. With no prior experience, the children learned to use the computer on their own. This prompted Mitra to propose the following hypothesis: The acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning provided the learners are given access to a suitable computing facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance [Source]
The experiment upon being successful in Delhi was later setup in villages of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Over the last past 8 years, 30 such centres have been established by the Government of Indian and have collectively helped more than 300,000 children to be technologically literate.
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HiWEL (Hole in the Wall Education Limited) was set up in 2001 as a subsidiary of NIIT jointly with International Finance Corporation to propagate the concept of minimally invasive education.  The project is also in application in many countries in the African continent.
sitcThe centers setup for such learning processes called, SOLEs (Self Organized leaning Environments) is led by the ‘School in the Cloud’ platform which works based on the Hole in the Wall concept. The School in the Cloud is a platform driven by a global community that connects SOLEs in an organic movement towards a more inclusive, universal education.
In India, School in the cloud centers has been setup at Prgat Sikshan Sanstha in Maharashtra, Korakati and Chandrakona in West Bengal and the Government Girls Secondary School in Kalkaji, New Delhi.
SOLE sessions include educators at such centers asking children a ‘Big Question’, which is a rather difficult question asked to spark the child’s imagination and creativity, and the children are supposed to form groups to find answers by themselves. Children are free to move around from groups and share information as well. A SOLE session is purely based on discovery, sharing and spontaneity.
School in the Cloud also has a Granny Cloud, which is a team of e-mediators. They reach out via Skype to children in SOLEs across the globe. Currently The Granny Cloud consists of 75 active Grannies. Their main role is to interact with groups of children in sessions. This involves stories, craft activities, songs, exploring the web, quizzes and discussions.
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Granny Cloud aims to stimulate curiosity, to develop confidence and have fun doing so. It also involves the posing of Big Questions with the children working in groups, using the web, developing search skills, talking amongst themselves and then submitting their feedbacks to their Granny.
The Granny Cloud has developed many different roles within the group. It offers mutual support, mentors individual children, provides technical support, gathers data for research, explores fund-raising opportunities, promotes the project through the media and helps with the recruitment of new Grannies. The Grannies hail from many different locations across the world.
Also Read: 5 Amazingly Inspiring Indian Stories That You Must Watch [DOERS]

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