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FAQ

1. WHY IS THE COMPETITION FOCUSED ON THE DEVELOPING WORLD?

In order to prove that tablet-enabled, child-driven learning is possible, we are focusing on remote areas of the world where access to quality education is either limited or non-existent, where schools and properly equipped teachers are scarce and where literacy has the most potential to lift people out of poverty.  While the findings from this prize will have global implications and can be adopted anywhere in the world, the focus of this prize is on areas of the world where the need is greatest.

2. WHY ARE YOU TESTING THIS BY USING TABLETS AS THE HARDWARE AS OPPOSED TO MOBILE PHONES?

A goal of the Global Learning XPRIZE is to show that software can help children learn reading, writing, and arithmetic by themselves. We would like to create an environment in which that software has the greatest chance of success, and tablets provide a much richer experience than mobile phones. We also expect that tablets will be far more readily available to children ages 7 - 10 than mobile phones will be. We hope that governments around the world will invest in devices to deploy the software developed for this XPRIZE. They are more likely to make that investment in tablets since they can be used in a wide range of educational applications.

3. WHAT IS THE TIMEFRAME FOR THE COMPETITION?

Every XPRIZE is different and requires a different timeframe. This is approximately a 4-year prize that begins with a six-month registration period, followed by an 18-month solution development phase where we ask teams to design their original solutions and create original content. We will then deploy the solutions of the five Finalist teams into the field for an 18-month testing period. The depth of this study is unlike anything that has been done before.

4. WHY WILL THE WINNING TECHNOLOGIES BECOME OPEN-SOURCED?

An XPRIZE with a $15 million incentive can ignite the creation of breakthrough technology-based learning solutions. We believe that such solutions should be made available for the world to iterate, improve upon and deploy. Unlike other XPRIZE competitions where there are clear market incentives (present or future) for competing, this competition is focusing on bringing learning solutions to the poorest children on Earth.

5. HOW MUCH IS THE GLOBAL LEARNING XPRIZE PRIZE PURSE?

The total prize purse will be $15 million. Each of the five Finalists will be awarded $1 million, and the Grand Prize winner will be awarded $10 million.

6. HOW LONG IS THE COMPETITION?

This is approximately a 4-year competition that includes a 6-month team registration period, 18 months for solution development, and an 18-month field-testing period.

7. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE WINNING TECHNOLOGY AFTER THE PRIZE?

The Finalists’ solution will be open-sourced for iteration, sharing and future development. If XPRIZE can prove that children can teach themselves and each other how to read, write, and do basic math, the breakthrough in how the world thinks about how children learn would be explosive.  From that moment onward, we believe that governments, international institutions and individuals from around the world will invest in technology proven to help children learn how to read. The end result of a successfully designed and operated prize is the creation of a new industry or industry-catalyzing technologies.

8. IS THIS A GLOBAL COMPETITION?

Yes, this is the first truly global competition launched to date by XPRIZE.  Not only will we be actively recruiting teams from all over the world, the solutions being developed for this prize are intended for – and will be tested internationally.

  

9. WHY IS THIS COMPETITION SO IMPORTANT?

Children are any country’s greatest natural resource. They represent the hope of a better future for a village, for a country, for the world.  Right now, in every corner of the globe, hundreds of millions of children will never realize their innate potential not because they lack ability, but simply because they lack opportunity.  This waste of human potential results in continued poverty for millions of people and entire nations.  The Global Learning XPRIZE represents an opportunity for this generation of children to escape economic despair because it offers the potential for a solution that works, that’s scalable, and that can be deployed immediately upon proof of concept.

10. HOW DO I COMPETE?

The first step is to complete an Intent to Compete Form. In addition, teams will need to complete the registration process and submit a registration fee of $500 by the close of registration, April 30, 2015. Teams should also understand that the applications and content they create must be original. This prize is designed for the sole purpose of creating content that captures the imagination of children living in the most remote parts of the world.  This undertaking will take time, resources, and a commitment to excellence.

11. WHY IS LITERACY AND LEARNING SO IMPORTANT?

Learning how to read, write and demonstrate basic math are essential building blocks for those who want to live free from poverty and its limitations. Literate children are less likely to live in poverty, and more likely to live healthy and productive lives. Countries with high literacy levels provide for their citizens and create opportunities for the world. In addition, when children learn how to learn, they lay the groundwork for a lifetime of continued exploration and achievement.

12. HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?

Compete, share and advocate. We anticipate teams and supporters from around the world, we will help you meet individuals and teams that can help you achieve your goals for supporting the competition.

13. DOES THIS AFFECT EXISTING EDUCATION SYSTEMS?

If successful, the Global Learning XPRIZE will help supplement educational systems around the world.  Teachers who teach in over-crowded classrooms will have the tools they need at their disposal.  Governments who struggle to build new schools and train new teachers will begin to see technology as a way to reach large populations of children more effectively.  The Global Learning XPRIZE seeks to supplement existing education systems in a dramatic way – not supplant them.

14. WHERE CAN I LEARN MORE ABOUT GLOBAL LITERACY AND LEARNING?

UNESCO has excellent statistics on literacy worldwide, and the Education for All Initiative gives outstanding context and meaning to those numbers.

15. WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

XPRIZE encourages participation by individuals and teams from around the world without regard to race, nationality, politics or ideology. However, United States law prohibits the exchange of services with, or payment of money to, individuals and entities in certain countries. To be eligible to compete in an XPRIZE competition, a team must not include any individual or entity organized or with primary residence in Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, or where otherwise prohibited by law. We look forward to the day when we can all work together to solve the world's Grand Challenges unhindered by sanctions, boundaries or politics.

16. WHAT VERSION OF ANDROID WILL BE USED FOR THE FIELD TEST?

Since the field test will not begin until early in 2017, the tablets will probably use a version of Android that hasn't yet been released. Developers can presume that the field test devices will use Android 4.4.4 or newer.

17. WHAT LICENSE(S) MUST FINALISTS USE FOR THEIR ENTRIES?

Software developed for the Global Learning XPRIZE must be released under the Apache License, 2.0, for a team to become a Finalist. Content must be released under the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license. Teams that are not selected as Finalists are not required to release any of their entry under an Open Source license.

18. I WANT TO USE EXISTING OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE THAT USES THE X LICENSE. IS THAT PERMITTED?

Teams are encouraged to build on - and contribute to - existing Open Source projects. Teams must include in their entries all source code required to build their software. Software from other sources may be included under any Open Source license provided that license does not prohibit the team's own code from being released under the Apache License, 2.0 and no other license. There are several such licenses, including the Apache, BSD, and MIT licenses.

19. THE OPEN SOURCE LIBRARY THAT I WANT TO USE IS LICENSED UNDER THE GPL. MAY I USE IT FOR MY ENTRY?

No, you may not. The GPL requires that derivative works also be released under the GPL. The Apache License does not impose such a requirement, so in order to comply with the GPL the Apache-licensed code would have additional license conditions imposed on it. A library that is licensed under the Lesser GNU Public License (LGPL), however, would be permitted as its use imposes no additional requirement on the Apache-licensed software.

20. DO I NEED TO SUBMIT THE SAME SOFTWARE FOR ENGLISH AND THE LOCAL LANGUAGE?

One of the goals of the Global Learning XPRIZE is the creation of technology that is portable and localizable around the world. Submitting the identical software in both languages is not required, but unless the differences are minor and reasonable to accommodate both languages such a submission would be unlikely to demonstrate localizability.

21. MY ENTRY WILL BE AN ENHANCEMENT OF SOFTWARE I HAVE ALREADY DEVELOPED. IS IT OK TO USE EXISTING CODE, OR DO I HAVE TO START FROM SCRATCH?

Absolutely! Teams are encouraged to build upon their existing work to create the strongest possible entry. Existing code and content is entirely permissible. However, all code and content submitted must be releasable under the Apache License, 2.0 and CC-BY 4.0 licenses if the team is chosen as a Finalist. If a team holds the copyright to existing materials but currently uses a different license, they would need to relicense those materials under the Apache and Creative Commons licenses.

22. I WANT TO USE AN EXISTING LIBRARY THAT'S NOT OPEN SOURCE, BUT THE RUNTIME CAN BE DISTRIBUTED FOR FREE TO ANYONE. IS THAT PERMITTED?

No, it is not. The Global Learning XPRIZE is designed to create a robust Open Source software community for learning. In order to reach the greatest number of children, the Finalist software must be readily adaptable by anyone. An existing free runtime may have limitations that are not discovered during the Global Learning XPRIZE, such as problems with right-to-left or non-alphabetic languages, or difficulty adapting to different display sizes. The Open Source community growing around the Global Learning XPRIZE needs to be able to make changes in such libraries to expand their use and availability.

In addition, a proprietary runtime that is currently available at no cost to users may not stay that way forever. Vendors are certainly entitled to change their licensing terms and fees. The Global Learning XPRIZE would not want to create a situation in which a particular proprietary technology is adopted widely and then licensed under different terms by the vendor.

In some cases, the availability of no-cost runtimes has discouraged the development of true Open Source alternatives to existing products. We hope the Global Learning XPRIZE will provide the community and financial incentives to grow those Open Source projects.

23. I USE A PROPRIETARY / CLOSED SOURCE / EXPENSIVE DESIGN TOOL TO CREATE MY CONTENT. AM I ALLOWED TO DO THAT?

Yes, you may do that. The Finalist entries must be licensed under terms that permit anyone in the world to adapt and modify them. We do not require that the tools used for that adaptation be free, low-cost, or even available on multiple platforms. They simply need to be available to allow the licensed Finalist code and content to be used as the Global Learning XPRIZE intends.

24. WHAT DEVICES WILL BE USED FOR THE FIELD TESTING?

The specific device and hardware specifications are not yet available. However, developers can expect that the features and capabilities available are comparable to a currently-available high-quality 7" Android tablet in the USD $150 - $200 range. Devices will have a GPU supporting OpenGL ES 2.0 or higher, a front-facing camera, a microphone, and stereo speakers. We currently do not plan to use a headphone or headset for the field trial. Such devices are fragile and hard to maintain under difficult field conditions, and the repeated plugging and unplugging of a headset into the tablet can damage the tablet, requiring its replacement.

25. WHEN WILL WE KNOW WHAT DEVICES WILL BE USED?

XPRIZE will announce detailed minimum specifications prior to the close of registration. Since the field trial does not begin until 2017, the actual devices used may not yet exist. XPRIZE will guarantee that the devices used will at least meet the minimum requirements announced, and will specify the exact model of the tablet to be used at least six months prior to the end of the software development period.

26. WILL THESE DEVICES BE ROOTED? CAN I INSTALL A CUSTOMIZED VERSION OF ANDROID?

Developers can assume that they will have root access to the tablets used, and that they will be commercially or readily available. Entries can install customized firmware, but all such firmware will be considered part of the team's entry and must be available under the required software and content licenses. Software such as CyanogenMod, released under the Apache License, 2.0, is acceptable. However, the Global Learning XPRIZE cannot guarantee that any customized firmware will be available on the target devices.

One of the major goals of the Global Learning XPRIZE is the creation of software that can be quickly and widely adapted to a wide range of devices and situations. Customized firmware inherently limits that adaptability. The judges will consider the effect of such customization in their evaluations. Customizations that are designed solely to allow the team to collect and analyze usage data during the field trial would be entirely acceptable, provided such customizations are not required for the normal use of the software. Teams should include documentation with their submission explaining their choice of alternative firmware should they choose to use it.

27. HOW CAN TEAMS COLLABORATE ON SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT?

XPRIZE sponsors and manages the Global Learning XPRIZE Competition on GitHub. XPRIZE will provide each team with a private repository and administrative access to it. XPRIZE will manage at least one public repository in that organization, and assist in its administration. Such repositories will provide homes for collaborative efforts supporting this prize. Teams are encouraged to collaborate on common tasks as much as possible so they can devote their resources to the unique capabilities of their designs.

In addition, the XPRIZE Forums provide resources for collaboration.

28. SUPPOSE I'M NOT ON A TEAM - CAN I HELP?

Certainly - welcome! While being a team member gives you a chance at the Finalist or Grand Prizes, not everyone is able to make the commitment such an effort requires. But many people in the Open Source community support the Global Learning XPRIZE's goals and want to be part of the robust learning environment the prize will create. Collaborative groups who are not competitors are already forming. Join the XPRIZE Forums for more information.

29. HOW WILL THE JUDGES BE EVALUATING THE ENTRIES?

The judges will be using the criteria described in the Global Learning XPRIZE Guidelines. Judges will be provided with tablets on which entries have been installed, and will be able to use them as they are to be used in the field test. Depending on the number of entries, not all entries may be seen by all judges. Judges will be able to communicate and cooperate to jointly evaluate all entries. Teams are encouraged to submit any supporting materials along with their entries, and those materials will be made available to the judges. The judges do their work independently of XPRIZE and their decisions are final. Judges may select up to five Finalists, each of which will receive a USD $1 million prize, but may select fewer than five if they wish to do so.

30. WHEN WILL THE FINALISTS HAVE TO RELEASE THEIR SOFTWARE UNDER OPEN SOURCE LICENSES?

The Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition about collaboration, and we need to balance those needs throughout the life of the prize. The Finalists will be permitted to update their entries during the field trials after 1, 4, 8, and 12 months. Understandably, Finalists would prefer not to release their entries to other Finalists until the field trials are over. XPRIZE will make arrangements with the Finalists to ensure their entries - including any updates during the field trials - will be released under the appropriate licenses when the competition is complete. Release of the USD $1 million Finalist awards will be contingent on the satisfactory completion of those arrangements.

31. WILL FINALISTS KNOW WHERE THEIR ENTRIES ARE BEING TESTED?

All competitors will know what country will host the testing prior to the close of registration. The field trial will involve approximately 175 villages with a total of approximately 3,500 children. The 175 villages will be assessed demographically and assigned to six groups so that each group has similar characteristics. Each of the Finalists will be assigned to one of those groups, and the sixth group will act as the comparison group and receive no software until the field trial has completed. XPRIZE does not intend to announce the names of these 175 villages, but as many people will be involved in the field trials we cannot guarantee they will remain a secret. XPRIZE will not announce which Finalists are assigned to which villages until the end of the field trial. Finalists are prohibited from attempting to discover where their entries are being used, and are prohibited from attempting any communication with those villages other than the data collection process provided by XPRIZE.

32. HOW MANY CHILDREN WILL BE USING EACH FINALIST'S ENTRY?

XPRIZE expects that approximately 25 villages, each with approximately 20 children between the ages of 7 and 10, will be assigned to each Finalist, for a total of approximately 500 children. The comparison group will include twice as many villages to provide good statistical measurements, including about 1,000 children. As we work with the host country to design the field test, the number of villages and children may change somewhat to reflect actual conditions.

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