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Finding Appropriate Models For Teaching Digital Skills In The Community

Since 2013 I have been thinking about how Ragged University can do digital teaching in the community. The theory goes that computers are common place, that they are accessible and that everyone will gain something from knowing how to use a computer. How hard could it be to help people learn how to do what they need to with the equipment available ?  This is a learning journal of the progressive experiments required to find appropriate models of event that address the mysterious ‘digital divides’ that exist.

First stop, the task was to identify computers which everyone could use for free. What sprung to mind was the fact that commonly we find computers in libraries and some community centres. I looked at the local computers and, on the face of things, saw that the machines were good.

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Adapting to Marginal Spaces: Floating Classrooms

After finding almost every institutional space incompatible with community education in terms of digital literacies, I have developed an idea which I call ‘Floating Classrooms’ which enable us to run free educational workshops and lessons wherever we need to. The idea of a Floating Classroom came from a mixture of the strategy of Ragged University (use available infrastructure and common technology) and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere novel which describes a Floating Market.

The Floating Market is a giant bazaar where people barter for all manner of junk and magical items in the fantastical underworld of London where it is set. The Floating Market appears in a different place each time, and in the book appears inside Harrods after the shops had closed, and then disappeared before dawn. Read more

Interview With An Educator: Sugata Mitra

On visiting Edinburgh for a lecture on his work, he agreed to give an interview with the Ragged University.  We sat down in the grounds of Edinburgh Napier University in view of Craiglockart hill and talked. In the interview he talks about the surprising results and what he is doing to develop these self directed learning scenarios in the UK and other places. He discusses the findings more clearly and what his vision of the future of education and technology might hold.

Since the 1970s, Professor Mitra’s publications and work have stimulated training and development of hundreds of thousands of young Indians, helping to develop the capabilities of some of the poorest children in the world.

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