Education TED Partners

Two educators, two very different visions, one question: How can tech help us rethink education in the developing world?

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Take two education activists with very different theories — and give them a chance to work together on a goal they both care about. That’s the thinking in the video above, the kick-off of Microsoft’s new Work Wonders project, which pairs up unlikely collaborators to spark new ideas. Watch as TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra joins forces with TEDx speaker Adam Braun to tackle a bold mission: Use technology to rethink education in severely underserved communities.

They’re a bit of an odd couple. Mitra, who created the School in the Cloud to enable kids to explore questions that matter to them on their own, believes that traditional schools are becoming more and more obsolete; meanwhile Braun, who founded Pencils of Promise to rally communities in the developing world to build schools, believes that traditional classrooms are the answer to opening up opportunity.

Above, watch the first in a series of mini-docs following this collaboration as it unfolded over the past three months. This episode shows Mitra and Braun meeting for the first time and thinking about how the other’s talents could help strengthen their own vision.

Microsoft, a longtime TED partner, will be revealing more episodes over the next month, so you can join the pair as they explore how to adapt Mitra’s Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) tools for use in three Pencils of Promise schools in Ghana, with the help of Office 365 products and services, and how to build a SOLE starter kit to roll out across Pencils of Promise’s global network. This kit, designed with the needs of underserved communities in mind, could even get distribution far beyond that.

Stay tuned. And in the meantime, watch Mitra’s TED Talk, all about the surprising things that can happen when you give children access to a computer and time to explore:

And check out Braun’s talk from TEDxUNLV about what the American education system can learn from the developing world: