A professor’s wish to inspire children and teachers across the globe is taking shape in a borough classroom.
Professor Sugata Mitra, winner of the international one million dollar TED prize, has designed a ‘School in the Cloud’ – a learning lab where children can explore and learn from each other through online resources.
And the first one has opened at George Stephenson High School in Killingworth, just one of seven Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLEs) in the world – two in England and five in India.
The teachers and students were joined by their peers from an Indian school via Skype to mark the launch.
Amy-Leigh Dickinson, head of design at George Stephenson, tested Professor Mitra’s methods with Year 7 pupils before extending them to Year 13.
She said: “From the outset, the children’s love of learning came through and there was a fantastic buzz.
“When they work in groups of four there’s less chance to opt out and they naturally self correct each other, helping to develop not only their literacy and understanding but also good social skills.”
Headteacher Ian Wilkinson added: “We’re really excited to be working with Professor Mitra on this project and delighted he has chosen to work with us, as one of only two schools in the country.
“It’s a really exciting and innovative project to be involved in and the early signs are that it is helping our student become more independent and resilient learners.”
The SOLE will also be open for the local community and nearby primary schools to use, and there has already been interest from a parent who home-schools her children.
The project has been welcomed by Mayor Norma Redfearn who said: “It’s wonderful that George Stephenson High School is the first school in the country to benefit from this high profile project. Professor Mitra is internationally acclaimed for his work which is enthusing and inspiring our children and young people to explore and learn so much.”