Indian physicist Sugata Mitra has won the 1 million dollar TED prize for 2013 in recognition of his work to promote self-learning among children with no access to classrooms, it was announced Wednesday.
Mitra’s educational work began in 1999 with his “hole in the wall” experiment in which he placed a computer in the outer wall of his research center and watched how children from a nearby Delhi slum taught themselves how to use the computer.
Since then Mitra has developed thousands of “schools in the cloud” in which he installs a single computer in low-income communities and hooks it up to a high speed network, dpa reported.
Leveraging a concept called Self-Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), retired teachers are recruited to offer lessons via Skype which focus on giving the students challenges that they must work together to complete.
Mitra is working to expand the network in India and China and create an innovation lab to continue experimenting with the system.
The prize is awarded annually by the TED foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the spread of knowledge through annual conferences and numerous other events around the world.
Previous winners have included rock star Bono, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, writer Dave Eggers, biologist E 0 Wilson and former US president Bill Clinton.