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Global Learning Finds its Semifinalists

Global Learning Finds its Semifinalists

The last weeks of June were inspirational and intense for the Global Learning XPRIZE. We hosted our judges and Semifinalist teams to determine our five Finalists. I want to share a bit of the Global Learning XPRIZE teams’ experience. 

During the first week, each of the Semifinalist teams made their case in front of the 11 judges who comprised the full panel.  The independent judging panel was chosen because they represent a wide variety of perspectives and insights.  They were experts from several different countries in the fields of neuroscience, literacy, mathematics, technology, teaching, and linguistics.  The result was a robust Q & A session following all team presentations that allowed the judges to get to the essence of each project. No stone was unturned in attempting to understand the effectiveness of the Semifinalist solutions.

Even some of the more skeptical judges at the outset of the competition soon became very excited and hopeful after listening to teams present. For the Global Learning XPRIZE team, listening to the questions of the judges and hearing their comments afterwards was both fascinating and inspiring, it became clear that this competition has truly incentivized teams to think originally and boldly about the grand challenge of literacy.

The teams represented big companies, start-ups, small NGOs, large academic institutions, and teams of individuals from all over the world who met and came together online just in order to compete.  While each of these teams will produce something which is unique, because of the open source nature of the competition, what they produce in the aggregate may actually be greater than the sum of their collective parts.  The possibilities are real and seemingly endless.

Being in that room to see the passion, dedication and commitment of the teams as well as to hear their unique stories, was one of those moments where you realize the genius behind XPRIZE.  These teams have spent tens of millions of dollars and countless of hours developing technology designed specifically for children living in remote parts of the world so that THEY can teach themselves reading, writing, and math.  These skills are foundational to all else, and they are the skills that all children have a fundamental right to develop.

What’s ahead? In the next few months team Global Learning will be developing the infrastructure in Tanzania, getting ready to distribute tablets to 4,000 children in 150 small villages in remote Tanzania.  To say this undertaking is stunningly complex would be an understatement.  All of this is possible with the help of our outstanding partners – UNESCO, the UN World Food Programme and the Government of Tanzania –  these folks too are doing the hard work of organizing communities, building solar stations, and getting ready for this massive, one-of-a-kind intervention. 

The next few months will be an exciting time for XPRIZE and the Global Learning XPRIZE.  Stay tuned…

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