Sugata Mitra is an Indian professor at the University of Newcastle. He's the guy who came up with the idea of putting 'hole in the wall' computers in slums in India. Pretty soon, kids who had no computer skills - in fact no schooling whatsoever - were computer literate and fast developing the ability to school themselves.
Being a chap with a questing mind, Professor Mitra wasn't content to stop there. He reasoned that kids learn better when they have encouragement. And, specifically, they learn better when that encouragement comes from a doting grandmother.
The result is a network of older British ladies who volunteer a certain number of hours a week on Skype to talk to and encourage kids from the poorest neighbourhoods in India.
"They provide that extra 20% boost by admiring them," says Mitra, who comes across as a perpetually smiling, eccentric yet avuncular savant. Which is fortunate, because that's exactly what he is.
But it doesn't stop there. He reckons kids anywhere can gain a positive learning experience from Skyping the Granny Cloud and has extended his work to schools in Gateshead. Today Gateshead and Mubai, tomorrow - the world.
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