Kids can Teach Themselves

Reference: Subject: Education

You may read the transcript here.

Here are the main points from this talk (August 2008):

(1) I wanted to build an argument for primary education in a very specific context. What happens to education as it gets remote from urban centers and resources?

(2) Studies show that test results drop with the remoteness of schools from urban centers. Most teachers in remote areas are not very motivated. Educational technology would have much greater positive impact in these remote areas than in urban areas.

(3) An alternative primary education is required where schools don’t exist, where schools are not good enough, where teachers are not available or where teachers are not good enough, for whatever reason.

(4) A possible alternate system is SOLE (self-organizing learning environment) that was observed in a set of “hole-in-the wall” experiments. It was discovered that a child could self-learn to browse on Internet within 8 minutes. They could even self-learn English by locating an English teaching site on the web.

(5) We found younger children teaching the older one. Six to 13-year-olds could self-instruct in a connected environment (group), irrespective of anything that we could measure. We got a clean learning curve, almost exactly the same as what you would get in a school. They seem to be learning as much by watching as by doing.

(6) The conclusion was that primary education, or parts of it, can happen on its own. It does not have to be imposed from the top downwards. It could perhaps be a self-organizing system. All natural systems are self-organizing.

(7) So, the conclusions are:

  • Remoteness affects the quality of education.
  • Educational technology should be introduced into remote areas first.
  • Values are acquired; doctrine and dogma are imposed.
  • Learning is most likely a self-organizing system.

(8) it gives us a goal, a vision, for an educational technology pedagogy that is digital, automatic, fault-tolerant, minimally invasive, connected and self-organized. We can call this educational technology “out-doctrination,” It could be a goal for the future.


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