Pencils of Promise, is a New York City non-profit that has built nearly 250 schools across Ghana, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Laos. Last month, Pencils of Promise began experimenting with an emerging style of teaching called the self-organized learning environment, or SOLE.
The main concept behind this non-profit is discovering wether children that have never used a computer,tablet or searched the internet can teach themselves how to use these various technologies. This isn’t the first time this type of study has been done. In 1999 Sugata Mitra, a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University held a publicized experiment called “Hole-in-the-Wall”, Sutra placed a computer in the middle of a New Delhi slum, and watched to see if kids could teach themselves to use it. The kids in fact did learn to use it and they taught themselves rather quickly how the computer worked.
I think that the biggest benefit with this method of self teaching is that kids themselves are curious by nature, especially underprivileged kids. It is obviously that a digital app or educational game would be more fun and interactive than handing a kid a physics textbook and saying “here, learn this”. This excites the children and forces them into an environment where learning is fun. I believe that SOLE has a great motive and I am excited to see what comes of their experiments.