Sugata Mitra, Professor of Education Technology at Newcastle University, has recently seen the wider launch of his School in the Cloud project. Based on the use of technology to formulate and deliver Self Organised Learning Experiences (SOLE), the project is the fruition of a partnership between Microsoft and his university.
School in the Cloud was launched as a global online platform in order to accelerate this research by asking educators — be they teachers, parents or community leaders — to run their own SOLE and contribute to the global experiment by sharing their experiences and help design the future of learning.
The key notion is that anyone can, using the internet, deliver a big question, or an important skill or perception, and share that idea or skill with interested children across the globe.
The project web site offers a way to profile contributors, to manage the structure of the ‘big question’, and to give learners and teachers the opportunity to feed back about their project experiences.
The short film below gives a flavour of what it is like to be a Skype Granny, as part of the project delivery. A warm, sharing and grounded experience for all, built within the framework of the School in the Cloud project. (Can I be a Skype Grandad?…Ed).
Mitra’s idea is to make learning available to children everywhere. The development of a SOLE should have the potential to stimulate enquiry, imagination and to engage with other cultures and communities. Answering the big question by utilising resources that would otherwise be unavailable in the child’s own community.
The East of England is not without educational projects, web focused, that work with distant communities. Nor is there a shortage of Fellows who may warm to the idea of remote support for children interested in their own subject or experience.
In our region a group of Fellows are currently pursuing engagement with a course in Human Centred Design for Social Innovation. (See our events page for details). Could there be a real synergy between our Fellows current HCD efforts and the creation of SOLE instances?
Here at conversationsEAST we have gone USA! We have picked up the news that science crowd funding site, Microryza, has relaunched as Experiment.com
Although only functioning for U.S. researchers at the moment, the Experiment team do have plans to offer non-U.S. researchers the opportunity to call for investment on the site.
Begun by a group of young researchers, frustrated at budget cuts and an inability to link science research to interested investors, they have re-designed and relaunched Experiment.com as a result. Worth a look, just to test the concept.
The RSA also supports Fellow’s project through crowd funding too. Check out the RSA KickStarter page below.
Here at conversationsEAST we think that ethical, impact investing along the Experiment and KickStarter model has a powerful future too. We share the excitement of connecting researchers in the bio-tech, renewable energy sectors.
Renewables particularly, with a concept of initial demand, at launch, for capital infrastructure, followed by the development of a smooth, much lower cost, lower environmental impact production flow, is a model that will seriously challenge traditional business matrices in the mainstream energy sector for the next generation.
Lets call our conversationsEAST impact investment model PowerStarter.
Are there any Fellows out there in any sector ready to contribute to a non-profit , web based project communication and investor linking bulletin board, a la Experiment?
Write to the conversationsEAST team and declare your interest. Contact Us
The short film below, from the TED talks series, is delivered Harish Manwani, the Chief Operating Officer of Unilever. It is not, perhaps surprisingly, an advertisement for soup or soap.
Harish joined Unilever in 1976, rising up the corporate ladder, to his current eminent position. This talk seeks to add to the three basic tenets of growth, Manwani argues, which traditionally is built upon consistency, competitiveness and profitability, by adding responsibility.
The notion of adding social value as a contingent outcome with economic value is not new, but the telling of it by a key player in a world wide corporation is remarkable.
Manwani tells of the Unilever project, Shakti, which seeks to empower women in small business (..and to sell soap). But he argues with passion that science underpins his company’s activity, yet teaches millions about hygiene and hand washing as life saving activities.
‘A brand can be at the forefront of social change’ he says – this is a powerful argument for the Social Business model we think. Do you agree?
The programme involves Microsoft Research providing 40 successful bidders with 180,000 hours of cloud computing time, using Windows Azure, and facilitated with 20 Terabytes of cloud storage.
Microsoft will also provide researchers with training and classes to ensure that project teams are best equipped to exploit cloud data mechanics.
Microsoft further commits to the deployment of FetchClimate, a climate data resource for past and present observations and for climate-prediction information. FetchClimate will be available as a fast, free, intelligent environmental information-retrieval service and as a cloud-based system that can be adapted to the specific needs of new projects.
This month the Skoll Foundation, based in Palo Alto, California announced the winners of their 2014 Skoll Award prizes for societal innovation. Driving forward help for the dispossessed and disconnected.
Each winning organisation receives $1.25 million dollars and a support package over three years from the Foundation. ‘The Skoll Award distinguishes transformative leaders who are disrupting the status quo, driving large-scale change, and are poised to make an even greater impact on the world…’.
This year the winners represent seven organisations, working in partnership across 35 countries, who are achieving outstanding results in tackling societal problems of the prime magnitude. ‘Driving transformation on a range of issues to maximize health, education, opportunity, transparency, and accountability in some of the poorest places on earth, these pioneers should be on the watch lists of everyone who cares about the future of the world…’. The winners are featured below.
‘B Lab is fueling a global movement to redefine “success” in business, so that all companies compete not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world. B Lab is challenging the status quo by building a new sector, legal structure, and standards; …advancing public policies that enable companies to create financial, social, and environmental value for both its shareholders and for society’.
‘Fundación Capital is a pioneer in inclusive finance innovation to help the poor save; grow and invest their assets; insure their families against risk; and chart a permanent path out of poverty. Already reaching three million people, Fundación Capital is working to reach eight million more in the next few years by expanding access to training, capital, and opportunity…’
‘…the bold goal of ending child marriage in one generation. Child marriage traps girls and their communities in poverty. By ending the practice, the global community can start to address some of the most difficult challenges in development. Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 300 civil society organizations working across 50 countries’.
‘Global Witness investigates and exposes the shadow networks underlying deals over natural resources that fuel conflict, corruption, and environmental destruction. They collect evidence and launch hard-hitting campaigns to find global solutions and end the “resource curse” by tackling corruption, protecting the environment, preventing conflict, and defending human rights’.
‘Medic Mobile builds mobile applications for community health workers, caregivers, and patients to increase life-saving health care coverage. Across 20 countries, its tools support 8,000 frontline health workers and benefit approximately six million people with plans to double these numbers annually for a total of 200,000 health workers serving 100 million people by 2018’.
‘Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people…’
‘Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor has turned the traditional charity model on its head by developing commercially-viable models to bring water and sanitation to nearly two million people in urban slums in six countries…offering a creative package of private-sector, nongovernmental-organization, and academic expertise, WSUP equips public and private service agencies with the capacity and incentives to serve all citizens in their city’.
Every one of these projects represent a paradigm shift in how lack of resources of all kinds are tackled. Two favourites of ours were WSUP and Global Witness.
WSUP presents practical and openly available resources about how to get the water flowing. We also warmed to the new Global Witness campaign to press for the abandonment of ‘anonymous’ companies. Making it harder to hide corporate actions and ethical deficits behind un-named business registrations.
We were inspired to start a social business for good. Were you?
Project narratives: Courtesy of The Skoll Foundation.
The Times Higher Ed. have recently published an article detailing the results of the Research Councils UK findings on how successful women are in research bids.
The findings are particularly remarkable when looking at female success rates for large grants. In the age cohort 50 to 59 years of age, women are about half as likely as men to be successful.
Even in the lower age range the success of men bidding for grants under one million pounds exceeds women. The male gender bias is apparent across all age ranges, widening the gap as scientific careers progress, arguably.
This is, as far as we know, the first time that such research grant data has been published with gender segmentation. It is truly shocking to think that young women scientists, just at the start of their career, are doomed to an intellectual life hampered by lack of resource and opportunity.
Should this be a 21st Century state of affairs…now we know?
The Open Source, award winning data curation programme, DataUp was recently subject to a comprehensive set of updates, which were launched at 2014 International Data Curation Conference in San Francisco.
The new version of DataUp gives administrators the opportunity to select and define metadata, as well as auto-define the meta values loaded by users and can now run a Data Quality Check, at an administrator level, to verify the data input from system users. Checking to see that entries and uploads comply with repository requirements.
Presently, DataUp supports two different types of repositories, though more can be added via repository adapters: (1) a personal or organizational Microsoft OneDrive repository or (2) a repository that adheres to the ONEShare standard developed by the California Digital Library.
If you are interested in Open Source software, cloud applications and research data access and manipulation DataUp is a useful tool. Not the only cloud based service available to researchers, but readily accessible and easy to get started with we would argue.
Our RSA Animate series is so good, so thought provoking and so energising that to build a new journal for regional Fellows and not include the series would, we think, be a serious mis-judgement.
“How can we get people more engaged, more productive, and happier at work? Is technology part of the problem – and could it also be part of the solution? Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, imagines what might be possible if more organisations embraced the full, empowering potential of technology and encouraged a truly open, collaborative and flexible working culture”. (Text courtesy of The RSA)
Proportionality, connectivity, internationalism and cross community. It sounds so easy.
Thought provoking? Want to get involved with the RSA in the region?
Delivered as a partnership between the RSA and Suffolk County Council, the report details the potential changes in contextual and strategic aims of a county – in order to improve the educational lot of its children and young people.
Matthew Taylor of the RSA in his preamble to the report, The Suffolk Journey, states…
Achieving a step-change in performance will require effort and adaptation. Some ideas will work well, others will need to be refined. The work of the solutions group should not end with the publication of this report; indeed, their on-going role exemplifies the call for Raising the Bar to be seen not as a one of process but as a continuing campaign….
As Fellows we couldn’t agree more. Watch this space for a continuing dialogue on the No School an Island initiative.
conversationsEast is the new on-line journal delivered by RSA Fellows in the East of England. It is intended to be an informative miscellany of topics, news and views.
Providing a forum for Fellows to publish information about their projects, guest articles, or just to get a burning passion ‘out there’.
We also offer news of our regional groups, our trips and events for Fellows as well as how to get involved with the RSA. You will also be able to see features about what is happening at John Adam Street, the London headquarters of the RSA.
If you have ideas for content, press releases or updates for your ongoing activity use our ‘contact us’ box at the top of the page or email the Editor with your copy…
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