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School in the Cloud community digital platform launched


Professor Sugata Mitra unveiled the School in the Cloud’s new digital platform at the TED 2014 conference in Canada, bringing together educators, children and Skype Grannies from all over the world.

When he won the 2013 TED Prize, Prof Mitra wished to help design the future of learning by building a School in the Cloud. One year later, he took to the TED stage to share that this wish is now close to reality, with a new School in the Cloud online community and seven new research labs open in the UK and India.

He had asked TED and its extended community to help create “a learning lab in India where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online.” He also invited people around the globe to create their own Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLEs).

Microsoft and their Skype Social Good team were among those who answered his call, supporting the wish with their technology to create a digital community platform where anyone, anywhere around the world, can experiment with self-organized learning.

Made by Many, the product design team of this digital platform, has spent the past six months co-creating the online experience with Prof Mitra and his Newcastle University, UK and India colleagues, the Skype Grannies, Microsoft and the children themselves, to ensure the experience translates across cultural and economic barriers.

“It’s truly remarkable to look back on all that we’ve accomplished in the last year with the TED Prize,” said Prof Mitra. “We can celebrate seven labs in England and India, hundreds of teachers who want to participate in self-organized learning, and linking up with Microsoft and Made by Many. I am thrilled to unveil our School in the Cloud global experiment, and invite anyone anywhere in the world to help design the future of learning.

“I’d also like to take the time to thank all the individuals and small organisations who consistently supported my ideas long before we got to this point, simply because they believed in what we were trying to achieve. Without them, there would be no School in the Cloud today.”

Jerry Rothwell, who was given a Filmmaking Award by the Sundance Institute and TED Prize, has been documenting progress on the School in the Cloud, also showed a trailer for his film so far at the event in Vancouver.

"Newcastle University is proud to have innovators like Professor Sugata Mitra in our midst,” said Professor Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University. “His work is key to our aims of being a world-class civic university, conducting excellent research - such as the School in the Cloud project - which positively benefits others. Sugata also helps inspire the next generation of great thinkers through his teaching on our Masters in International Development and Education programme.”                                                                                          

A Year Into the School in the Cloud TED Prize

With the TED Prize, Prof Mitra has been building on his previous work to advance SOLEs. In just one year since the prize, he has opened seven research labs (five in India and two in the UK) to understand self-organized learning in different cultural, social, and economic contexts. Two more labs will open later, including the main research facility in Gocharan, Bengal. Each lab is run by a volunteer teacher or community leader – with other educators joining in.

Since his wish, more than 200 teachers have joined the Huffington Post SOLE Challenge, the SOLE Tookit was downloaded +50,000 times, and over 700 people have looked to become a Skype Granny – in which they video conference with students, and encourage them. 

Critical to mobilizing this effort is the new School in the Cloud online community that Microsoft and the Skype Social Good team developed. It’s a global experiment to explore self-organized learning, discover a worldwide community of SOLEs and learn about becoming a Skype Granny – retired teachers who encourage children with big questions no matter where they are in the world.

Building from ‘granny cloud’ and Skype in the Classroom, this new platform brings together educators, children and Skype Grannies in an experience that simultaneously guides and captures self-organized learning.      

“The TED Prize supports one wish each year to inspire the world,” said Anna Verghese, Deputy Director of the TED Prize. “Our 2013 recipient, Sugata Mitra, did just that with his bold vision for a School in the Cloud. With an overwhelming response from educators across the globe, as well as support from innovators and influencers like Microsoft/Skype Social Good, Sundance, Made by Many and IDEO, the wish is quickly becoming a reality. It’s just the beginning, but we are excited to see how the TED community continues to fulfill Sugata's wish and help design the future of learning."

For more information about Sugata and the School in the Cloud, see previous release.

published on: 19 March 2014