Professor Mitra’s work, back in 1999, he started his “Hole in the wall” project in India, and the learning’s from one simple experiment continue to have deep implications on how children should learn today.
The Internet Debate: As the debate unfolded, Professor Mitra proposed rather controversially that all students should have free access to the internet when they take exams. The counter argument for computers being decommissioned from classrooms has been well publicized. One study published by MIT recently showed a negative correlation between student performance in exams and frequent use of computers and tablets in classrooms.
Yet Professor Mitra’s logic, at one level, is sound. In the real world, you always have the access to internet and from a real world productivity perspective, it’s more important that a student knows how to effectively use the internet to answer a question than it is for a student to be able to recall the answer from memory.
Google's Artificial Intelligence: The efficiency of search is much more sophisticated. You could type in: “Why flowers are shaped the way they are?” and Google might actually give you a decent answer, with little requirement to refine your questioning. In fact, we are rapidly approaching the point where you can type into Google almost any question you’d like and get the perfect answer every time.
A student can take an exam, type a question into Google, and then copy and paste the perfect answer into their exam paper an ideal and effective way of testing ability and competence?
What Will “Learning” Mean in The Future?
Professor Mitra gave a fascinating answer: If a student can translate any text simply by pointing his phone at it, then there is no point in the student learning foreign languages. To all intensive purposes, the student can understand all foreign languages. The reality is that we aren’t that far away from having our own personal real-time translator in the palm of our hands.
As Professor Mitra pointed out, if I asked you to answer the question, what is 14.5% of 63, you would, without a second thought, get out your calculator or phone or even go to Google search and type it in. The answer is 9.135.
Capitalizing on the power of technology, teachers often act as guides or mentors who address individual student perceptions and misapprehensions in the moment. This is all possible because of a new flexibility in old forms: the daily schedule, course requirements and ways of demonstrating learning. These developments will have profound implications on the future of education. Could we be entering a new age of questioning, a new age of enlightenment, unleashing a new hunger for knowledge that will lead us to push the very boundaries of what we already know about our world and our universe? Create schools for tomorrow when we understand that excellence is about unleashing talent, not imposing rigid rules on Students.