A year of work in progress – day 68 (Minutes or Mitra)

Day 68 – 15 April 2014 and day 13 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Why Mitra? Sugata Mitra is a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University. He is developing the school in the cloud that brings learning to everyone irrespective of wealth and social standing. He’s developed learning labs in two schools in the North East of England (Killingworth and Newton Aycliffe) and another two in Delhi and Chandrakona in India.

His latest project was to build a high-tech lab in Korakati a remote village in one of the poorest parts of India, without electricity, health care or primary education. He is a leading advocate of the self-directed learning movement and has proved that giving children access to the vast resources available online through the internet allows them to ask questions and steer their own learning. He believes that children are perfectly capable of teaching themselves almost anything when left to their own devices and with access to a computer.

‘If you give a group of children a set of questions and a computer with an internet connection, they will be able to find answers — whatever the difficulty level.’

Sugata Mitra will be speaking at the #Dynamo14 conference on 1 May.

Why minutes? How long does it take to train someone how to use a computer, days, months or years? We’ve all heard that learning to use technology is a great barrier for a lot of people. Many of the children in Mitra’s initiatives had never seen a computer before yet within minutes they were able to teach themselves how to use it. The ability to learn is innate providing that our interest is stimulated and the learning materials are available.

Day two of our marathon planning session but we’re back in the Room for Improvement. (I’m not sure I could have eaten another Bimbi’s fish and chips as I’m still full from yesterday.) Today we focused on the future of our technology. It’s changing all the time and trying to keep a modicum of a forward view is becoming more and more difficult. We just need to learn to ride the wave of chaos.

We should have learned from yesterday and started with a topic that would take a few minutes but instead we looked at whether a fat client or virtual desktop would be better for our future. An hour or so later at least we came to a conclusion about how we are going to come to a conclusion.

We kept referring back to our ICT strategy which, in the main, stood the test of time. We reaffirmed the technologies we wished to stay with and made plans for those we need to review. It all seemed like hard work but worthwhile now I can look back.

We had an interesting discussion about Virginia Mason over lunch.

Learning points for today: It is not people’s inability to learn that holds us back; you can get MFDs and whacking big MFDs or WBMFDs; arguing isn’t convincing but reasoning is and; in the main we’re in agreement over where we are going.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – even without the chips.

4 thoughts on “A year of work in progress – day 68 (Minutes or Mitra)

  1. A thin client/virtual desktop solution is a perfect solution for people who only use their machine for office tasks, a bit of internet work and server based applications (so, the vast majority of office staff). Its also a great remote access solution.

    Its not only children who have an in-built ability to learn, we adults do to, we have only forgotten, or don’t want to.
    When I helped train people (in a former job), if someone had problems learning the job I always felt it was my inability to get through to them rather than their inability to learn.
    I always felt anyone can learn anything, they just need to be given a chance to learn, and given some help and guidance. If they can’t learn then its the teachers fault not the student.
    Its another reason why I think its so wrong to not allow people the chance to develop in the work place.

    1. I agree with you entirely and that is my point. We stop learning as we do as a child. don’t wait fro a rule book, just get in there.

      Who is stopping you from developing at work?

  2. Everyone should be given the chance to develop their working skills. If I refer back to previous employments, one of things which was openly encouraged was learning to operate different machines. Fillet operators were encourage to learn how to operate the labeller, Forklift ops to run the depalletiser etc. It was good for people and good for the business. It was exactly the same in the Army.

    Would this type of crossover in skills not be useful in IT? During quiet times (holidays) why not allow people to spend some time in another section. Maybe helpdesk staff could go work in a school, schools people could work with MIS team, etc. It will give the individual an inside into other work, develop their skills and in times where there are staff shortages there would be others who could be “borrowed”.
    This type of development would not cost much money and would be more relevant and useful than any paid for course.

    I can’t be the only person who would like to work with other teams, maybe with a chance of working there. I am sure there must be others.

    When development or training is mentioned, everyone thinks of paid for courses but the skills and knowledge within an organisation are better than any 2 or 3 day course.

    Its a subject I feel rather strongly about

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