Education/Social learning

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Many experiments in the educational sciences have stressed the importance of social learning. A student of any age will learn more by learning in a group of friends, who all teach and learn from and help each other, than by trying to learn alone from a book. Besides, it's more fun this way.

The Montessori Method and the Hole In The Wall project both found that when a child learns something, a small group (typically of four children) will spontaneously form around him and he will teach them what he has just learned. This helps the children to learn social skills as well as cognitive ones.

The Internet has made it much easier for people who share interests to find each other and form groups. (This has been called "ridiculously easy group-forming".) We now have the intriguing possibility of using this to create Montessori-style social learning groups. Educational hubs (such as those listed to the left) could incorporate facilities for people who are learning a subject together to form groups, keep in contact via teleconferencing and social networks (and later virtual reality), to teach each other, keep each other motivated and learn together. This can, of course, happen in the real world, but if someone is living outside of a major city, or if the subject being studied is particularly esoteric, people with shared interests are not easy to find. The Internet overcomes this difficulty by bringing together people selected precisely on the basis of common interests, but not at all selected on the basis of geographical constraint. OpenStudy is a website allowing students to form these study groups.

As well as classmates, digital communications make it easy to find teachers. It is difficult to find someone who can teach you Sanskrit in your town, but it's easy to find them online. With modern telepresence technology such as videoconferencing, it is possible to access experts on even the most obscure subjects, no matter where you are. These should be organized into a topic-based list to allow students to easily meet tutors.