X Prize has Just Announced the Latest $10 million Contest
The newest X Prize announced in March 2013 centers around global literacy.
If you haven’t heard of the X Prize you’ve probably heard about one of the 3 projects they’ve awarded so far: the suborbital spaceflight vehicle, an extraordinary oil clean up tool, and the 100 mpg car. The foundation awards a $10 million dollar prize as a way to inspire investment into key areas, and the newest X Prize for global literacy solutions seeks specifically to alter the timeline, nature, quality, and scalability of literacy solutions and education solutions in general. Reading truly is an essential skill someone needs in order to learn everything else, so if $10 million dollars are up for grabs for the best solution, you can bet $100 million or more will be invested by individuals and organizations seeking to develop these tools.
Specific details about this prize will be to be released in late 2013.
We hope to revolutionize global literacy with a prize that will change what people think is possible regarding the means and methods used to teach and learn.
- Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation
The project is headed up by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte who was the founder of the brilliant One Laptop Per Child. one.laptop.org/ The organizations goal is providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop. The education debate has droned on too long about system reform, and Negroponte has said that by shifting the focus onto individual learners and learning tools they use we can empower more people to read and get the knowledge and skills they need to have successful lives, starting from pre-school all the way up.
I know the best way the 60 million illiterate children in the world can begin to acquire some reading skills is through open source, peer reviewed course materials, good tools for instructors, and more than anything a sense of motivation that learning is fun, important, and really just necessary if you want to move up in the world. Especially important are the tools that are developed for instructors in areas that do not have regular or plentiful access to paper, markers, or other basic classroom supplies. Even without these things, it is possible to have effective, engaging, fun classrooms. For students who have access to computers, the learning tools should transgress the classroom and become part of a child’s afterschool and nighttime entertainment like we’ve seen with Khan Academy. Crowd sourcing high quality tools and materials may be one option, but we are super interested in thinking about other models.
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