Cloud Schools & Cloud Grannies

POSTED BY Nitin Bhas
While cloud computing per se is a comparatively recent development, cloud based content and the mobile app revolution seems to have the most recent and growing impact on the evolution of the connected world. The growing desire for converged services itself implies a need for greater levels of synchronisation. Now, what originally started as the ability to access emails remotely then transformed into the need and want to access and control other aspects of one’s life - from remotely unlocking your car doors to now having the opportunity to receive text alerts when your child enters the passcode that grants them access to your home after school.  Well this has now led to the creation of cloud schools and cloud grannies. At the TEDGlobal Conference in Edinburgh this week, Prof Sugata Mitra outlined details of the first "school in the cloud", as reported by the BBC. At the main TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference in LA in February, Prof Sugata Mitra was awarded a $1m (£638,000) prize fund to set up a series of cloud schools. This programme is largely self-organised around the children, but will have online adult moderators drawn from a pool of retired people [‘Cloud Grannies’], who will interact with the students online, via Skype for example. According to the project outlined by Prof. Mitra there will be no time tables and curriculum, with much of the learning left to the students. In many respects, this presents a potential solution – or the vision of a solution – to the concerns expressed by Graham Brown-Martin, the Founder of Education Design Labs, at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year, when he reflected that: “Not much has changed in 100 years… I don’t think we’ll get far if we go along a trajectory of throwing technology into nineteenth century [teaching practice]… What would a classroom look like if it was designed by Jonathan Ives or Steve Jobs – would it be a room? We need to ask, what is the purpose of education? Who is the customer? Is it about maintaining the status quo? Is it to product the productive forces of society? Is it a passport to a better life?” Mitra’s vision like this will have a number of challenges to overcome, but there is absolutely no question about the potential cloud has to offer in many other aspects of life – be it connected grannies or connected cows.