We received a note from co-founder and Director of International Operations Drew Edwards about the usage of the Hello Hubs built in conjunction with our partner Projects for All. They set a Skype call with Sugata Mitra, the inspiration for the digital education based on his ideas of "building a school in the cloud".
Today Sugata Mitra, well known for his TED Talk "Build a School in the Cloud," "Skyped" in with the community at St. James Primary School via their Hello Hub. The experience was nothing short of transformational. A group of around 20 community members, teachers, and children gathered under the auspices of learning about Skype. We sat down to talk about what the program did and how it could connect to have real conversations with people anywhere else on the planet. We touched based on the presuppositions that are absent in a Skype conversation, especially with someone you are meeting for the first time. We talked about how to share with others in both asking questions and sharing our own experiences.
As we logged onto the call we walked through the program step by step, to demystify the program a bit. We clicked on Sugata's username and explained how to send a message to ask if he was ready to speak with us. When he responded the whispers began building around the group. You could feel the giddy anticipation of what could happen next. His call rung through, the whispers built to a nervous laugh followed by silence. "Hello, Sugata, are you there?" we asked. "Yes I am here, hello" he answered. Nervous chatter erupted again, but just as quickly as it blurted out it left.
I introduced Sugata to the community at St. James, explaining their first time experience on such a platform. "I have been telling them about yourself and we have told you a bit about them" I said, "but, they have decided that they would like to meet you themselves" Sugata followed with encouraging agreement and asked where we were located. Then that nervous silence returned. Who was going to speak, everyone thought. You could see it in everyone's eyes. Then a brave teacher described where St. James is at in the world. We walked through the physical description until one student blurted out, "Where are you?!" followed by scattered laughter. Sugata responded with a description of the harsh realities of winter and his northerly location from Uganda. The look on everyone's face was a mixture of fear and disgust - they wanted no part in winter.