Internet learning boosts performance by seven years, Sugata Mitra study finds

The TES is reporting that a study has concluded pupils can perform at more than seven years above their expected academic level by using the internet to research answers on their own and in groups. Others, however, are already questioning the claims*.

Professor Sugata Mitra found that eight- and nine-year-olds who were allowed to do online research before answering GCSE questions remembered what they had learned three months later when tested under exam conditions.

Now the Newcastle University academic is giving undergraduate-level exams to 14-year-olds, and has told TES that these students are also achieving results far beyond their chronological age.

Professor Mitra, whose famous Hole in the Wall experiment showed how children in a Delhi slum could learn independently if given access to the internet, argues that his latest work in the UK could challenge the entire exam system. A reliance on testing memory means that other cognitive skills are not being adequately stretched, he believes.

“Why do we have [memory-based] questions like this? Because it’s very convenient for an examiner,” Professor Mitra said, describing assessment in schools and universities as “a bit of a horror story”.

To read more on this survey, get the 31 July edition of TES

More at: Internet learning boosts performance by seven years, Sugata Mitra study finds


Read more about this directly from Newcastle University at: SOLE experience encourages ‘deeper learning’


So this is about the way they used the internet – with freedom to work in groups, share learning, move around etc as they saw fit – rather that just the internet on its own.

Interesting though – what do you think – does this sound credible or not?


*Also writing in the TES, Tom Bennett is less impressed and has written a piece challenging the claims which concludes with the line

Children matter too much for their one chance for education to be blown on the roulette wheel of unfathomably bad science. Here’s to all the teachers trying to make a difference

Read the full piece from Tom Bennett in the TES at: Sugata Mitra and the Hole in the Research


Please let us know how you react to the various claims and counter claims in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. Bennett is right.  The sample tested is too small to come to a reliable conclusion.  In any case, the pupils’ investigations were teacher-instigated and supervised.  This is not the same as children teaching themselves via computer with no adult intervention.  As Bennett says, Hole in the Wall computers have been vandalised or, if not, are dominated by boys playing games or painting.
    That said, it’s a pity Bennett linked criticism of Mitra’s research with attacking Sir Ken Robinson who argues passionately for creativity in education.  Mitra’s plonking children in front of computers is not the same thing.

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