From New Jersey to Ghana: Two education activists witness the power of self-organized learning first-hand

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2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra and Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun have teamed up to revolutionize education in underserved communities. Photo: Pencils of Promise

From suburban New Jersey to rural Ghana, the collaboration between 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra and Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun is reaping awards among students in classrooms experimenting with “self organized learning,” environments where children can tap into their innate sense of wonder by connecting with information online.

This is the idea behind Mitra’s School in the Cloud – a concept drawn from his TED Prize wish, in which he offered up a new vision of education that combines the vast resources of the Internet with children’s innate sense of curiosity. Braun, on the other hand, believes schools are the future, and his nonprofit program has built 200 “Pencil of Promise” schools in Laos, Guatemala and Ghana.

Despite their different philosophies, the duo of education activists were brought together last month by Microsoft’s Work Wonders project, a new series of webisodes about collaboration.  Together, they launched a partnership to collaborate on ways to revolutionize education in severely underserved communities using Office 365.

The Work Wonders Project is being documented in a three-part series of videos on YouTube. Watch the first video, where Mitra and Braun discuss the technology needed to have a successful Self Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) in a Pencils of Promise school in Ghana. In the second one, watch as the two unlikely collaborators visit a school in New Jersey to see a SOLE in action. In the third video below, they put SOLE to its final test in a school in Ghana. If the experiment works, SOLE could be implemented in Pencils of Promise schools across Ghana.

Read more about how SOLEs work»

Watch Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk»