In 1999, educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra conducted his pioneering “Hole in the Wall” experiments to study how children learn in self-organized settings. In New Delhi and remote areas of India, students who had little to no formal education were given access to a computer and high speed internet while a camera monitored their interactions. The results were incredible and almost impossible to believe. Children with little or no input from an adult instructor led themselves through a process of enthusiastic exploration, discovery, and peer coaching that resulted in the ability to learn almost anything — new languages, the solution to complex questions, science and math, and more.
Fourteen years later, research and iteration continue to support these startling results. Professor Mitra has honed this work into the concept of Self-Organized Learning Environments or SOLEs, which draw on children’s natural curiosity to create a dynamic space for students to learn, interact and develop critical problem-solving skills. Professor Mitra’s vision has earned him the first ever one million dollar TED Prize.
StartSOLE is inspired by Dr. Sugata Mitra’s research and efforts. Our aim is to spread the movement and allow teachers and students to take the advantage of technology to conduct a SOLE anywhere, anytime.
Today’s educators face the challenge of preparing students for lifelong success, but the skills students need—critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communications - are often not set in their course curriculum. We launched StartSOLE in 2015 to help transform education through SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environments). A SOLE combines technology with student-led inquiry. It can exist anywhere in the world where there is a computer, Internet connection, and students who are keen to learn. SOLE focuses on the process of learning itself instead of simply focusing on the results. It helps prepare students for success in today’s era of technology and information. SOLE provides an early intervention in education that can level the academic playing field and increase equity among all students.
Students develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication skills
Students build motivation and independence, as they want to answer the “Big Question”
Teachers shift their role from knowledge provider to facilitator of student-led learning
Dr. Jeffrey McClellan is the founder of StartSOLE. Prior to leading our work, Jeff founded MC2STEM High School, where he served as Head of School for 7 years. The school received recognition during President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, was featured in the book Deeper Learning, was referenced in Marco Rubio’s book American Dreams, and has been documented in many other places - including Edutopia’s Schools That Work Series. Jeff has also worked internationally to build innovative educational programing and has published on topics such as Grounded Research and the non-cognitive factors associated with sustained student achievement. Jeff has also delivered a TEDX CLE Talk on “The Student Success Triangle.”