Virus versus the internet — education during and after the pandemic


Posted on

Community

4 min read

Anu Nathan, itslearning

Sugata Mitra is a well-known education researcher and is currently Professor Emeritus at NIIT University. He spoke at an itslearning event in 2017 in Bergen, and with so much having changed in the field of education since then, we invited him back to talk about the future of learning, what we have learned from keeping education going in the midst of a pandemic and how we could improve education. Here is a summary of the presentation he delivered at our global online event — itsConvention 2021.

We asked Sugata (as he prefers to be called) to talk on rebooting education after the pandemic. Covid-19 triggered a huge transformation in education, pushing schools to adopt remote and hybrid learning around the world. We wondered what Sugata made of that. Since his Hole in the Wall experiment in 1999, the former University of Newcastle professor has been a proponent of self-organized learning environments (SOLE) and learning by using the internet.

That has not changed.

When we go back to normal – what normal are we talking about?’

Sugata Mitra, education theorist

‘These last 2 years of the pandemic, where the world was going through this huge transformation, I thought a lot about what would life have been like if we didn’t have the internet. I think you would realize that the reason we can continue to do the things that we do is because of the internet. The internet has changed everything — healthcare, how we buy and sell things, travel and education.

image of sugata mitra facing camera

Sole solution

‘In the early days of the pandemic all education shut down. Then we picked it up — we self-organized to reboot education and keep learning going.

‘I’ve been talking about SOLE for more than 30 years, ever since my Hole in the Wall experiment. But I believe it hasn’t really caught on, because SOLE doesn’t teach students to answer exam questions, certainly not how exams are set now. But it is not enough for students to just remember what they have learned. Exams, as we know them, are tests for memory not knowledge.’

What Sugata would rather see is students being tested on what they have understood. Can they communicate and explain their understanding of what they have learned? And he says the reason SOLE has not caught on is because such tests are much harder to set.

Educate to be future-proof

He wants to see education going forward, rather than returning to normal.

‘What I could not do in 30 years — the virus did in months — it changed the system. We all moved into SOLE. Unfortunately in the beginning there were mistakes because we tried to recreate the classroom on the internet. Instead of 24 learners in front of you, teachers now had 24 learners connecting via the internet and the teacher would lecture and show them slides.

‘How about instead of lecturing, ask a question? Questions that are carefully designed — that cannot be Googled in 2 seconds.’

What he would like to happen more is group work, getting students to collaborate and then presenting a report. The listener (teacher) listens to the groups’ reports and summarizes. This is the essence of SOLE.

In 2017, he raised some eyebrows in our convention hall when he said: ‘Unsupervised groups in the presence of the internet can learn almost anything by themselves if they wish to.’

He has not wavered from that belief and says the role of the teacher must be of the person raising that interest in the question.

‘Groups of unsupervised children, using the internet, can learn anything by themselves if they want to. I have not found anything to suggest otherwise. But a 9-year-old will learn it differently from an adult; they will learn in their own way.’

The pandemic and beyond

With coronavirus cases spiking in Asia, he adds that we may never go back to how education was before the pandemic, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

‘Why should we? The big change in education is the shift in the things we know and what we don’t know yet.’

He says it is important to teach students the fundamentals that will help them live happy, health and useful lives in the era that they live in. And that means teaching them the skills for tomorrow, teaching them to seek information rather than memorize and pass examinations.

Attitudes for today’s educator

In his presentation, he outlined 15 attitudes for educators of today including the flexibility of hybrid learning and shifting ‘from making it happen, to letting it happen’ to nurture students to become seekers of knowledge. He believes that education systems around the world that are still rooted in the 19th century education model do not benefit us, because this model worked when we could predict the problems we might face, when change wasn’t so abrupt as it is in today’s world. He wants to see teachers teach for today’s world by teaching students how to figure things out and look up information, while also being able to distinguish the fake from the real, and then present their findings similar to how PhD students do.

Here are some other key points he suggests teachers adopt to prepare students for the future.

  1. Understand that the purpose of education is to enable people to live happy, healthy and useful lives.
  2. Shift from ‘just in case’ to ‘just in time’. Use the internet to learn the answers to questions we have at the time.
  3. The ‘you go and I will follow’ method. Let your learners explore and take the lead.
  4. Do not teach learners what they can learn by themselves.
  5. Computing, comprehension and communication are all that we need to assess.
  6. Allow the use of the internet during examinations. Set questions meant to show understanding.
  7. Conversations with the teacher can provide an accurate assessment of learning. Why don’t we ask the teachers for an assessment of what a student understands rather than testing their memory skills?

Sugata has expanded on these ideas in his book ‘Virus vs. The Internet’ which is available on online bookstores.

If you’d like to know more about hybrid learning and how itslearning supports student-driven education, read our free Hybrid Learning Handbook for educators.

Our Product

How to talk to your students about plagiarism and academic integrity

August 25, 2021

Our Product

4 tips to help uphold academic integrity in your classrooms

August 16, 2021

Our Product

Encouraging academic integrity and original thinking with itslearning

August 9, 2021

Higher Ed

A hybrid learning approach to higher education: Bahçeşehir University

August 4, 2021

News

The NEN Interview – Steve Tucker, CEO itslearning

June 28, 2021

Our Product

The itslearning planner is a great tool to give students structure, sequence and scope

June 21, 2021

Community

Isle of Man endorses hybrid learning as the way forward following 3 lockdowns

June 15, 2021

News

itslearning will exit the US market over time and strengthen its position in Europe

June 9, 2021

Our Product

A brand new, visually appealing planner for Back to School 2021/2022

June 8, 2021

Community

Virus versus the internet — education during and after the pandemic

June 8, 2021

Highlights

Schleswig-Holstein extends contract with itslearning for further three years

May 28, 2021

Community

Personalizing Learning through a Hybrid Model

April 27, 2021

Community

9 reasons why you should be at itsConvention

April 20, 2021

Community

Tips from the online classroom: How to engage students and activate their interest

April 15, 2021

Highlights

The future of education: remote and hybrid learning

April 12, 2021

News

ROC Midden Nederland chooses itslearning

April 12, 2021

Highlights

Podcast – How itslearning empowers students and teachers across the globe

April 8, 2021

Community

Aarhus Tech uses video conferencing to prevent dropouts

March 2, 2021

Highlights

2021 brings some major improvements to the itslearning platform

February 17, 2021

Community

Online Learning Tips & Tricks

February 17, 2021

Higher Ed

Implementing a Digital Learning Environment at Centria University of Applied Sciences

February 11, 2021

Community

Berlin offers the itslearning LMS to 400,000 students and teachers

February 10, 2021

Community

7 easy steps to engage your students during live video online classes in itslearning

February 2, 2021

Community

Five important data privacy takeaways from 10 months of remote and blended learning

January 27, 2021

Community

How the Dutch Police Academy Streamlines & Secures Education

January 18, 2021

Community

itslearning is moving fully to the cloud to scale up faster and better serve you

January 4, 2021

Community

How education disruption prompted this Finnish school to reinvent vocational learning

January 4, 2021

Community

5 free & fun tools to learn a new language

December 15, 2020

Community

Engaging Students with Virtual Reality

December 10, 2020

Higher Ed

What kind of technology can be used to support the learning process at universities?

December 10, 2020

Highlights

Baden-Württemberg selects the itslearning LMS for over 1 million students

December 9, 2020

Highlights

Introducing our brand new Test tool

December 7, 2020

Highlights

10 ideas for creating accessible content for everyone in itslearning

December 3, 2020

Higher Ed

Review: University of Southern Denmark to replace Blackboard with itslearning

December 1, 2020

Higher Ed

University Digitalization – How can an LMS make a difference?

November 18, 2020

Community

5 key strategies to make remote learning fun and engaging for younger learners

November 3, 2020

Community

Overview of itslearning October Updates by Brenny Kummer

October 20, 2020

Community

The SPARK Schools Covid-19 playbook to keep learning going for every child

October 14, 2020

News

itslearning: A Powerful Partner for Online Learning by Aimée Skidmore

October 13, 2020

Higher Ed

An effective implementation of technology (LMS) in Higher Education

October 13, 2020

Highlights

Becki Lee of Hopwood Hall College Awarded “UK Teaching Oscar” for Digital Innovator of the Year

October 12, 2020

Highlights

itslearning October 2020 Release

October 5, 2020

Highlights

Another great literacy tool – itslearning adds Immersive Reader to the platform

October 2, 2020

News

itslearning establishes new partnership with Altitude Learning to manage its US business

October 1, 2020

Highlights

Remote Learning Tips from the “Digital Teacher of the Year”!

September 25, 2020

Higher Ed

Tips for blended learning in higher education – the Stockholm University experience

September 8, 2020

Community

International Schools Embracing Technology for Blended and Remote Learning

August 25, 2020

Highlights

All set for Back to School after summer

August 24, 2020

Community

The Learning Platform That Enables & Enhances Blended Learning

July 7, 2020

Community

Whatever it Takes – Supporting Personalized Learning Remotely

June 17, 2020

Highlights

itslearning June 2020 Release

June 12, 2020

Community

How the Millis School District is tackling Remote Learning

June 11, 2020

Community

Learning Paths Simplify Online Learning

May 22, 2020

Community

itslearning LMS Makes Remote Learning Easier

May 19, 2020

News

itslearning + Google: All That and a Bag of Chips!

May 11, 2020

Our Product

itslearning May 2020 Release

May 8, 2020

News

Digital Solutions at Bremerhaven Schools

May 6, 2020

News

Shifting from eLearning to Remote Learning

May 5, 2020

Higher Ed

University of Southern Denmark chooses itslearning as its learning platform for 45,000 users

May 5, 2020

News

Elizabeth White — Harford’s 2020 Teacher of the Year — keeps caring for students while working remotely

May 4, 2020

News

Lightening the lockdown load

April 27, 2020

News

Tools that teachers love for fostering human connections in remote learning

April 17, 2020

News

The Mooseheart Child City & School Reinvents Teaching & Learning!

April 16, 2020

Highlights

Düsseldorf fast tracks remote learning – connecting 80k users in 24 hrs

April 15, 2020

Highlights

itslearning is ISO 27001 certified

April 14, 2020

News

itslearning Announces UBIT as New Partner in Turkey

April 14, 2020

Highlights

Bahçeşehir University Uses itslearning to Support Remote Learning

April 7, 2020

News

Remote Learning for All

April 2, 2020

News

Helpful teaching tools for virtual learning

March 24, 2020

News

Update: Efforts to boost platform capacity for itslearning users

March 17, 2020

News

Remote learning usage peaks as schools around the world close

March 16, 2020

Higher Ed

Turku University of Applied Sciences Selects itslearning

March 13, 2020

News

The successful implementation of a learning platform at Bartholomew Schools

March 5, 2020

News

How schools can ensure continuous learning during the coronavirus outbreak with remote learning

March 4, 2020

News

Amy Ong, from St Paul’s Catholic School wins UK User of the Year 2019

February 14, 2020

Our Product

itslearning February 2020 Release

February 14, 2020

News

Meet our new CEO – Steve Tucker

February 13, 2020

Higher Ed

What is an LMS… and do we need one?

February 12, 2020

Higher Ed

3 Things You Need to Know Before Implementing an LMS in Your University

February 10, 2020

News

Leadership change at itslearning

February 4, 2020

Our Product

itslearning January 2020 Release

January 10, 2020

News

itslearning is now a part of Sanoma Group

December 5, 2019

Higher Ed

itslearning at the OEB Global Conference 2019 in Berlin

November 27, 2019

Higher Ed

University College Copenhagen Selects the itslearning Platform

November 20, 2019

Higher Ed

Stockholm University hosts series of pedagogical course design workshops

November 4, 2019

News

Vi e’ Bergen – itslearning is Bergen

November 4, 2019

News

Virtual Learning Environments: What is their role in contemporary education?

October 18, 2019

News

5 Ways to Use an LMS to Support Blended and Online Learning

October 15, 2019

News

7 of the Best Apps for Teachers

October 9, 2019

News

Developer Festival – Sparking New Ideas

September 25, 2019

News

9 Ways to Help Students Practice STEM Skills

September 23, 2019

Our Product

itslearning August 2019 Release

August 30, 2019

News

5 Ways to Use Edtech for Project-Based Learning

August 29, 2019

News

Returning refreshed and recharged for the new school year

August 28, 2019

News

A very special visit from China for back to school

August 26, 2019

News

A second summer interning at itslearning

August 21, 2019

previous arrow
next arrow