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2013 TED Prize Awarded to Education Innovator Dr. Sugata Mitra

Building on Famous "Hole in the Wall" Research, Will Use Prize to Launch Global Initiative for Self-Directed Learning

LONG BEACH, Calif., Feb. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Sugata Mitra today was named the recipient of the 2013 TED Prize. A renowned educator famous for his "hole in the wall" experiment, Mitra accepted the award – TED's annual prize of one million dollars that gives an exceptional individual the chance to conceive and launch a high-impact project.

Live from the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, Mitra revealed his project:

"My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries."

Mitra developed the concept of the Cloud from his 1999 "hole in the wall" experiment, in which he carved a hole from his research center into an adjoining Delhi slum. He placed a freely accessible computer in this hole, and found that groups of Indian street children, with no prior experience or knowledge of English, could teach themselves how to use the computer. For the next ten years, Mitra expanded on his findings and created a "granny cloud" – online moderators of retired teachers – who could Skype into learning centers and encourage children with questions and assignments.

As a leading proponent of self-directed learning, Mitra developed the concept of SOLEs (Self Organized Learning Environments). The SOLE approach embraces a process where educators ask the kids big questions, leading them on intellectual journeys rather than asking them to just memorize facts.

With the TED Prize, Mitra will build on his work to create the School in the Cloud: a learning environment that is overseen entirely by a global network of mediators – retired teachers who skype in through the Cloud. The school – a lab to be built in India – will serve as both an education and research center to further explore approaches to self-directed learning. The school will be self-sustaining and managed by cloud technology, with an adult supervisor always on-site. Once complete, the design will become a blueprint and available for anyone to duplicate.

Mitra today released a toolkit for anyone – parents, educators, teachers – interested in trying self-directed learning: How to Bring Self-Organized Learning Environments to Your Community https://www.ted.com/pages/814 . It is an online resource designed to help educators and parents support kids (8-12 years old) as they tap into their innate sense of wonder and engage in child-driven learning. 

"The TED Prize is a forward-looking prize, and we award it to individuals who have demonstrated significant achievement that the prize wish can build on," said Lara Stein, Director of the TED Prize. "Sugata has not only created a remarkable body of research around self-directed learning, but he has support from teachers around the world who are tapping into his methodology with great success. We are thrilled to support his wish, and are excited for him to delve deeper, build his lab in India, and provide platform for educators and parents around the world who wish to explore this model."

"We have the opportunity to choose and create the kind of world we want," said Dr. Mitra. "In an ideal world, we would have great schools with great teachers absolutely everywhere. Yet the reality is that there will always be places where good teachers cannot or will not go. If we're going to level the education playing field around the world, we need an alternative system that also prepares children to enter a technology-driven workplace.  School in the Cloud has the potential to help achieve this."

To build and launch the School in the Cloud, Mitra has developed a plan of action in which communities can engage. For more details, or to contribute to his TED Prize wish, go to TED.com/sugata.  

Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award
A new component to the prize, also revealed today, is a first-time collaboration between the Sundance Institute and TED: Sundance Institute | TED Prize Filmmaker Award.

The award will jointly grant $125,000 for a short documentary film project about the work of the annual TED Prize winner. Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program and Fund will accept proposals March 1st through April 15, 2013 at www.sundance.org/ted. The winning project must be an independently produced film that highlights the work of the TED Prize winner over the course of their first 12-18 months after receiving the award. The winning proposal will be announced at TEDGlobal in Edinburgh, Scotland in June 2013.

About the TED Prize

The first TED Prize was awarded in 2005, born out of the TED Conference and a vision by the world's leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to change the world – one wish at a time.

The original prize: $100,000 and the TED community's range of talent and expertise. What began as an unparalleled experiment to leverage the resources of the TED community has evolved into an ambitious effort to spur global-scale change.

From Bono's the ONE Campaign ('05 recipient) to Jamie Oliver 's Food Revolution ('10 recipient) and JR's Inside Out Project ('11 recipient), the TED Prize has helped to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and inspire art around the world.

For Press Inquiries: Erin Allweiss (917) 512-2118 or [email protected]

SOURCE TED Conference

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