Showing posts with label Sugata Mitra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sugata Mitra. Show all posts

Friday, January 29, 2016

Project leader for an UNESCO Report on prize-based incentives for innovations in ICT's in Education

In the next few months, I will be working on a UNESCO commissioned report on prize-based incentives to foster innovation in the area of ICT's in education. This is indeed timely as there is much hype on mobile-based learning and educating through gamification, particularly in developing countries. New technology again promises to come to the rescue by circulating hope in the midst of chronic failures in schooling in these contexts. With a majority of people in the global South gaining access to mobile phones, there is much proclamation that learning is now literally at their fingertips.


At the UN Mobile Week in Paris with the UNESCO Secretary General Irina Bokova
Since we cannot afford to have another 'lost generation' as the state fails the youth, funders are taking on the neoliberal approach to education, using financial incentives to capitalize on new ICT's to provide engaging and relevant e-content for these emerging platforms of learning. But are these incentives working to attract the best innovations in this field? What constitutes as sustainability in such schemes and is this coming at the cost of funding traditional modes of education? Is there an expectation that mlearning innovation will supplant traditional models of schooling? And who are the target audiences anyway for these innovations and is this overlapping with the actual gaps and inequalities within these societies? These are but a few questions one needs to tackle when approaching a project such as this.

Previously, I have worked on two major projects that were recipients of such prize-based incentives for innovation, namely the Development Marketplace Award for the Same Language Subtitling initiative on Bollywood songs to sustain neo-literacy by the Founder Brij Kothari. I have written a number of articles on the impact of SLS on literacy outcomes that can be accessed here. The second project was my critique of the much celebrated Hole in the Wall initiative by TED prize winner Sugata Mitra.

The bottom line is that today, the use of prizes to spur innovation in education has dramatically increased since the beginning of the millennium, but, to date, no organization has attempted to critically examine the impact these prizes have had on education. UNESCO proposes to fill this gap by conducting a landscape review of education prizes with an ICT focus. I will be taking the lead on this project, working with a promising young scholar Andrea Gudmundsdóttir as my research assistant. Should be a fun couple of months ahead!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Romance with "self-directed" and "autonomous" learning as a design gaming solution for universal education

Educational gaming is becoming big business and definitely seen as a solution to the chronic issues of poor/ absentee teachers in schools in poor and disadvantaged contexts, particularly in the developing world. Sugata Mitra and his Hole-in-the-Wall project inspired the director of SlumDog Millionaire and resulted in him winning the TED prize for innovation


The Global XPrize for Education also holds a similar perspective of emphasizing how the youth need to be empowered by gaming with the assumption that they will teach themselves and don’t need to rely on others, especially bad teachers. But is there such a thing as 'self-directed' learning? Does this imply no intervention at all and that these gaming platforms fill the human gap? Do children make the best decisions for their own personal growth? When we talk about autonomous learning, are we talking about being independent of schooling as we know it? Are we saying its an institution that has failed our children and thereby, we require novel interventions in this digital age- and what better platform than games that is most loved by children?

Sounds appealing for sure. But would anyone in the West seriously propose the poor kids in say, the Bronx to play learning games as a potential solution, given the school system has failed them? Hardly. We instead fight the system, protest, partner with teachers, and bring in new inspiration through mentors, activists, and success stories from within. While schools are limited as an institution no doubt, nobody would seriously propose to rid them from society as we have not found an alternative ideal for socializing our children. Learning games are important to diversify our means of engagements but to seek in them a schooling substitute, is to give up on these children altogether.

A recent NPR article by Anya Kamenetz 'With the Right Technology, Can Children Teach Themselves? explores this further especially in light of the new announcement by Global XPrize.
Check it out. ..