I stumbled across this TED talk today (hat tip to Will Richardson's excellent ed tech blog weblogg-ed) given by Sugata Mitra, a professor of education technology at Newcastle University in the UK. Mitra talks about how technology can facilitate a child-directed learning environment based on experiments he conducted in India and elsewhere. Mitra set up computers in villages that did not have computers or Internet access and left them there without any instruction. What he found was that even without guidance from a mentor, children were able to learn how to use the computers and browse the Web, and were soon playing games and using computer programs. The focus of Mitra's research is definitely on education internationally, but there are implications for education here in the U.S., too, he argues. The video is well worth the 20 minutes.
What do you think? What does Mitra's research say about the role of the teacher, and how much does technology have the potential to supplant teacher-led instruction?