UK Grannies Teach Indian Kids by Skype

April 30th, 2012 at 1:04 pm

In an effort to provide education to the poorest parts of India, a group of grandmothers from the United Kingdom responded to a newspaper advertisement and became volunteers for the “granny cloud” project.

Formally called SOLE (Self-Organised Learning Environments), the granny cloud is the brainchild of Professor Sugata Mitra. The work is being supported by the Newcastle University’s School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences and MIT’s iLab project.

The grandmothers, officially known as e-mediators, are not teachers and they do not offer lessons to children in India. Instead they read stories to the kids and discuss about things relevant to them and to the UK. The e-mediators provide encouragement and praise to the children, serving as a “virtual grandmother” of sorts.

In one of the sessions, e-mediator Jackie Barrow talks to the kids about her garden and the lambs in the fields by her house outside Manchester. She also shows photos of herself during her trip to London.

The e-mediators connect with each other by a Facebook page and a wiki, wherein they offer tips on what went well and what did not work.

The project faces many challenges. Many schools are not interested installing the computers (instead they are put in after-school clubs), there is not enough electricity, and sometimes the connection does not work. Despite the problems, the SOLE project continues to march on as it is extended to four schools in Colombia, a country in South America, and even in areas of the United Kingdom where literacy rate is lower than the national average.

Professor Mitra hopes that the project can be adopted by a large organization and conduct it on a global scale.

Source: BBC News


Tags: ,