August 17, 2019 News Magazine

Global Learning Xprize splits $10M purse for best teaching app for disadvantaged kids

Kids need a good education to have the best chance of succeeding in the world, but in distant parts of developing countries that may be neither schools nor teachers. The Global Learning Xprize aimed to spur innovation in the tech space to create app-based teaching those kids can do on their own — and a tie means the $10 million grand prize gets split in two.

The winners, Onebillion and Kitkit School, both created tablet apps that resulted in serious gains to literacy rates in the areas they were deployed. Each receives $5M, in addition to the $1M they got for being a finalist.

Funded by a number of sponsors including Elon Musk, the prize started way back in 2014. Overseen by Matt Keller, previously at the famous but sadly unsuccessful One Laptop Per Child program, the prize asked entrants to create free, open-source software that kids could use to teach themselves basic reading, writing, and arithmetic.

After soliciting teams and doing some internal winnowing of the herd, a set of five finalists was arrived at: CCI, Chimple, Kitkit School, Onebillion, and Robotutors. They came from a variety of locations and backgrounds, and as mentioned all received a $1M prize for getting to this stage.

These finalists were then subjected to field testing in Tanzania, where 8,000 Pixel C tablets generously donated by Google for the purpose were distributed to communities where teaching was hardest to come by and literacy rates lowest.

Among the participating kids, only about a quarter attended school, and only one in ten could read a single world in Swahili. By the end of the 15-month field test, 30 percent of the kids could read a complete sentence — results were even better among girls.

The winning teams had similar approaches: gamify the content and make it approachable for any age or ability level. Rural Tanzania isn’t hurting literacy-wise because of a lack of worksheets. If these kids are going to learn, it needs to be engaging — like anywhere else, they learn best when they don’t realize they’re being taught.

Onebillion’s approach was to create a single but flexible long course that takes kids from absolutely zero reading knowledge to basic competency. “Onecourse is made of thousands of learning units, some could be on reading activities, some could be on numeracy activities — it’s a modular course, it’s built around the child’s day and adapts to their needs,” explained the company’s CTO, Jamie Stuart in a video about the team.

“When the child is not yet at a stage when they can read, the story can be played back to the child a bit like an audio book. When the child starts to be able to decode words we can offer them assistance, and then later on they can attempt to read the story by themselves.”

Kitkit School came from Sooinn Lee and her husband, both game developers (and plenty of others, of course). She points out that games are fundamentally built around the idea of keeping the player engaged. “Sometimes in education software, I see there is software too much focused on what to deliver and what is the curriculum, rather than how a child will feel during this learning experience,” she said in her team video.

“We create gamified learning with a mixture of high quality graphics, sound, interactions, so a child will feel they’re doing a really fun activity, and they don’t care if they’re learning or not, because it feels so good.”

All the finalists were on the ground in these communities working with the kids, so this wasn’t just an fire and forget situation. And if we’re honest, that may account partially for the gains shown by these kids.

After all, the main issue is a lack of resources, and while the tablets and curricula are a good way to bring learning to the kids, what matters most is that someone is bringing it at all. That said, pre-built fun learning experiences like this that can run on rugged, easily distributed hardware are definitely powerful tools to start with.

 


Source: TechCrunch

Tags: in Uncategorized
Banner
Related Posts

Entrepreneur First eyes further Asia growth to build its global network of founders

January 29, 2019

January 29, 2019

British startup venture builder Entrepreneur First is eying additional expansion in Asia, where its operation is now as large as...

Station F launches a co-living space for 600 startup people

June 27, 2019

June 27, 2019

Startup campus Station F is expanding beyond its original building in Paris with a co-living space called Flatmates. 600 people...

Google raises its G Suite prices

January 16, 2019

January 16, 2019

Google today announced that it is raising the price of its G Suite subscriptions for the first time. In the...

Scooter startup Bird tried to silence a journalist. It did not go well.

January 11, 2019

January 11, 2019

Cory Doctorow doesn’t like censorship. He especially doesn’t like his own work being censored. Anyone who knows Doctorow knows his...

Google strengthens Chrome’s privacy controls

May 7, 2019

May 7, 2019

Google today announced a major new initiative around its Chrome browser that will, in the long run, introduce significant changes...

EF raises $115M new fund, aiming to create another 300-plus startups in the next three years

February 19, 2019

February 19, 2019

Entrepreneur First (EF), the London-headquartered “talent investor” that recruits and backs individuals pre-team and pre-idea to enable them to found...

CO2 in the atmosphere just exceeded 415 parts per million for the first time in human history

May 12, 2019

May 12, 2019

The human race has broken another record on its race to ecological collapse. Congratulations humanity! For the first time in...

Don’t miss this epic Twitter fight between the IAB’s CEO and actual publishers

August 2, 2019

August 2, 2019

Grab popcorn. As Internet fights go this one deserves your full attention — because the fight is over your attention....

The Stanford connections behind Latin America’s multi-billion dollar startup renaissance

June 5, 2019

June 5, 2019

The houses along the tree-lined blocks of Josina Avenue in Palo Alto, with their big back yards, swimming pools and...

PopBase launches its platform for social media stars to share and monetize their work

August 12, 2019

August 12, 2019

It’s been almost a year since PopBase first launched on the Battlefield Stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018. In the...

Review: Apple’s new iPad mini continues to be mini

March 21, 2019

March 21, 2019

The iPad mini is super enjoyable to use and is the best size tablet for everything but traditional laptop work....

MIT’s ‘cyber-agriculture’ optimizes basil flavors

April 3, 2019

April 3, 2019

The days when you could simply grow a basil plant from a seed by placing it on your windowsill and...

Startups BRCK and Swvl partner on free WiFi for Kenyan ride-hail buses

July 31, 2019

July 31, 2019

Nairobi based internet hardware and service startup BRCK and Egyptian ride-hail venture Swvl are partnering to bring WiFI and online...

Barbershop management platform Squire raises $8 million Series A round

June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019

Squire, a Y Combinator-backed business management platform for barbershops, just raised an $8 million Series A round led by Trinity...

Grocery delivery startup Honestbee is running out of money and trying to sell

April 26, 2019

April 26, 2019

Honestbee, the online grocery delivery service in Asia, is nearly out of money and trying to offload its business. The...

Comments
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *