SOLE: Self-Organized Learning Environment

This blog could easily have been called Genius Hour: Part IV.

I have been doing Genius Hour for a while now. It all started with the TED talk about the School in the Cloud experiment in India. Sugata Mitra designed the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children could explore and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud. His vision led to the creation of SOLE or Self Organized Learning Environments.

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 1.25.43 PM.pngThis is very much like Genius Hour…students start with a big question or idea, they choose their own partners/small groups, and they present their findings at the end. The teacher walks around and helps when needed, but does little in terms of instruction. SOLE does differ in that each small group (3-5 students) can only use one device. This helps with collaboration and teamwork. Also, members of the group may leave the group, to share or get ideas from other groups, but must ultimately present with their original group.

This video is probably the most profound thing I have read, seen, or watched in many years. “Before the internet, there was great value in knowing and remembering. Yet, this is the lowest level of learning.” With Google at our fingertips, why does a 4th grader need to know how many cups are in a pint, or how many feet in a yard? While it is good to have a frame of reference for these things, no longer do we need to spend so much time memorizing facts. We have the world at our fingertips! “Today it is more critical to know how to find answers than it is to remember them. We are able to free up our educational process on high order skills such as evaluation and creation.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-19 at 1.35.56 PM.png

My role as a teacher is no longer to be the “keeper of the knowledge” standing in front of rows of students, imparting my “wisdom” into their brains, but as a facilitator; someone who sets a process in motion, then stands back as learning occurs naturally. I am grateful for the GT instructor at my school who originally showed me Sugata Mitra’s TED Talk, and helped get Genius Hour rolling for my students, and for a co-worker who reminded me about SOLE and how to use in my daily teaching! Borrowing and stealing!

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