When we talk about academic training, a fashionable expression is to say that the established education system is defective - the current system is not defective, it is built in a great way. It's just that we do not need it anymore, it's obsolete. - Sugata Mitra


Ok, I cannot speak for everyone, but based on what I could see in West Africa and South Asia, here are some hypotheses to consider:


1. The accumulation of data in the head is often unnecessary

It is often about attending classes all day, every day and memorizing a lot of data. Students are often forced to absorb information, on the assumption that they might need it some day. The truth is, they may never need most of it.

There are some people who can quite easily stay seated still and take notes for 8 hours each day, and then 2 weeks later, they can recite everything they have written and memorized. But there is also this huge population of very talented people who cannot learn that way, especially since any relevant information is easily accessible if they ever need it...

As Sugata Mitra explains, you do not need to memorize anything. You can find the information when you need it. The role of the teacher is especially to guide the young minds to the right questions, not to give the answers, since the answers are everywhere.


2. Information is everywhere, just be connected

You just have to be connected, your brain can accept/give remote contributions. It is a fact that the value of your ideas is limited when you are isolated but there is one great hope: wherever I go, even if it is in a remote village or in the middle of the savannah, the very first thing that I ask or check is, do I have that little bandwidth that could give me some GPRS connection or something equivalent? And in the middle of jungles, I see that sometimes it says "connected". And then I know that everything I say can go everywhere and work exactly the same way. It's just a matter of time...

Lois Mbugua, Customer Project Manager at Ericsson Kenya, says connectivity is about opening up to the world. By connecting a village, students can communicate with other students and teachers around the world.

Her colleague Margaret Kositany adds that education used to be limited to what the teacher could tell the students, and the teacher was relying on a few text books. But now students have access to a lot more information.

In fact there is a very big difference between access to information and school. They used to be the same thing, now the information is available online for everyone.

A great example of this would be Coursera, a digital company offering open and massive online courses. According to Daphne Koller, co-founder, the idea is to enable the best universities in the world to put their courses online, so that anyone with an internet connection can benefit from having free access to a great education.

Coursera provides courses in computer science, social sciences, mathematics, statistics, economics, finance and many more. More than 200 courses are currently available.

Since the information is available to anyone connected, it means that if we give access to 10-12 years old children, they will acquire the knowledge if they want - as Seth Godin could deduce.


It would not work so well for topics that they are not interested in because...


Read more (part 2) >>