Global Learning XPRIZE at UNESCO, during Mobile Learning Week 2016


Matt Keller of Global Learning XPRIZE discusses the goals and ambitions of this fantastic project! Imagine what can happen if children in developing countries can independently learn "The 3 R's" without requiring a teacher ...




Jason: Hi everyone, Jason Bavington here with Midnight Illusions and we are at UNESCO in Paris, France for Mobile Learning Week. If you want to learn more about UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, check out "the link below" for our previous blog post about that. Today, I really wanted to talk to you about Global Learning XPRIZE. We’re here with Matt Keller, who is the Director of Global Learning XPRIZE and wanted to share a little more about what the program is and where it’s going, where the hopes are, and how we’re going to affect tons of kids. So, Matt, do you want to tell us a little bit more?

Matt: I will, thanks. Global Learning XPRIZE is a $15 [USD] million prize that is designed to incentivize people to think differently about how children learn. In reading, writing, and numeracy, the expectation is that children can teach themselves and each other those competencies within 18 months. So, the team that develops tablet software that can get children who are non-literate on their own in reading, writing, and math to literacy in 18 months wins the $15 million Global Learning XPRIZE.

There are 140 teams from 45 countries around the world, and the result is that it’s a $15 million prize and the beauty of competition is that teams collectively will spend a lot more than $15 million trying to win the $15 million. So, you’re going to have all of this energy, all of these resources put into solving one of the world’s greatest challenges. So the return on investment is gigantic. It is the inverse of the foundation model.

So, the competition is fun, the teams are great. It’s an eclectic mix of teams from around the world. You’ve got coders from Silicon Valley; you’ve got kids from Nairobi; you’ve got some of the world’s great neuroscientists; you’ve got artists in Amsterdam. It’s a pretty cool thing. So, that’s it.

Jason: That’s fascinating. And it’s amazing how you’ve been able to crowdsource a problem like that and just put it out to the community and the community’s going to respond with something fantastic that’s going to be used in ways that we can’t even imagine how it’s going to be deployed and how many scientists are going to be discovered, and engineers, and philosophers, and just kids out there who don’t have the ability right now to convey or explore what’s inside them.

Matt: That’s right.

Jason: We’re going to give them a tool and then they’re going to do brilliant things with it in 5 or 10 years that we’ll just be in awe of.

Matt: Who’s the undiscovered Einstein? Who are the kids who are going to grow up and change your world or change our world? I think doing that, at that age, is the most important thing in the world. And I think this is going to help.

Jason: For sure. Just the fact that we can leapfrog brick and mortar school systems and just get past that infrastructure that isn’t there and is so difficult to bring. And bring them a digital solution that they can have in their pocket.

Matt: And it’s a failed infrastructure too. You know, mobile phones are everywhere, but landlines for Southern Africans are nowhere. So that technology leapfrogged, right? And now, obviously, everybody uses mobile phones. I think learning is going to – the same process will happen. That dynamic, interactive, AI-based learning is going to leapfrog the failed infrastructure of so many places around the world in terms of schools, in our own country as well. I think that kids that have access to something that mentors them in a way that is personal and real is going to happen. It’s The Diamond Age, which is a great book by Neal Stephenson. It’s what I hope for to come out of this process.

Jason: It’ll be there 24 hours a day. If the kid wants to learn math at 3 am, they can. If they want to draw at 6 am, they can.

Matt: And hopefully, it’ll speak to you. You'll wake up in the morning and it’ll say, good morning Jason, let’s talk about ravens today. That raven on the windowsill, where does that raven come from? And I think that is the future of learning.

Jason: For sure. So, it’ll be great to see where Global Learning XPRIZE goes. Full disclosure, Midnight Illusions is a competing team in Global Learning XPRIZE so we’re going to put our best foot forward and see what sort of brilliance we can come up with. We have the elves working in the back, 24 hours a day, of course. And we’ll see where it goes. But regardless, come the conclusion of the prize, something brilliant is going to be released to the world, and we’ll see what happens after that. So, thanks a lot, Matt.

Matt: Thank you.

Jason: Great. Talk with you soon and we’ll keep you posted on XPRIZE. We’ll put some links below, and you can follow us through the course of the competition. Take care.

Again, it’s Jason Bavington from Midnight Illusions at the UNESCO Mobile Learning Conference in Paris, France.

Jason: Cheers.

Matt: Au revoir.


Midnight Illusions Ltd. and Global Learning XPRIZE

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Related miBlog Post:

     UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2016

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