Secret to remote learning success: your grandma
This revelation lead to what has become Mitra’s most famous achievement: the Granny Cloud. In an attempt to test the limits of online learning, Mitra created an online school where grandmothers from the UK volunteer one hour a week in an online course with students from around the world.
The role of the grannies? To encourage the students in whatever they are learning, give praise, and making the students feel proud in their work.
And just like in the previous example, these Granny’s have zero previous knowledge on the subject matter – their effectiveness lies within their ability to encourage and stimulate conversation, not lecture information.
So, why has this method been so effective?
It all comes back to what we know about human behavior: emotion is a powerful motivator, and positive reinforcement is a way to stimulate learning. By combining active learning with human interactions, we can drive learners to achieve results that would never be possible working alone.
The most significant part of this experiment was that the encouragement from the granny instructors took place remotely, through human interactions. This tells us how crucial positive reinforcement is - even from a remote source.
Remote collaborative learning leads to better outcomes
The findings from Mitra’s educational experiments are remarkable, but still we must ask the question: Does remote collaborative learning work in the long term? Is any of this information actually retained?
Surprisingly, yes. Knowing that critics might ask the same question, Sugata Mitra tested the students again two months after the original assessment. He found that their scores stayed the same, and in some cases actually improved.
How is this possible? Because the conversations that took place among the learners during the courses triggered a dozen different responses that make it more memorable. For example:
- The memories from interacting with a person are stronger than memories of simply reading the material. By learning actively and collaboratively, the learning process became emotional.
- By discussing with each other and their instructors online, the children were left with visual photographic memories to recall later on.
- The students felt a sense of self importance and pride when they found the correct answers, which triggered a positive emotional response, strengthening the memory.
The learning process was a success as a direct result of the human interactions that took place, which tells us just how important these types of interactions are.
The instructors of tomorrow will encourage and curate conversations, by creating the setting and allowing the learners to interact, in remote settings. The role of instructor will become more engaging, as the job will be less administrative and more involved with the learning process.
And the best part? When the role of the instructor shifts to community leader, there is no need to have one instructor per topic, since strong subject knowledge is not necessarily required. You can let experts within your own organization take the reins with collaborative learning.
Related: 3 Data-Backed Ways to Prove Training ROI
Use the power of collaborative learning in your business
Sugata Mitra’s studies have a lot to tell us about the power of collaborative learning - even from a remote source. For companies looking for new ways to up-skill their employees and share knowledge and insights between teams, these studies are inspiring.
360Learning is the first digital learning platform designed to empower experts at scale. With our collaborative platform, every one of your teams can share their knowledge and expertise, and can engage with each other in real-time to develop engaging learning content.
Discover a world where experts publish new courses every day, employees are engaged, and learning becomes the new normal. Want to check it out yourself? Request a live demo here.