Teaching kids in developing countries without teachers
By Jovan Rebolledo-Mendez, PhD
Imagine if you wish, in the near future, a child near Kabare, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is able to learn to read, write and understand basic arithmetic. Although she does not commute to any school, because there are no elementary schools within a 100km radius from where she lives, she is able to learn by using a tablet.
In a few years the tablets will be so much more affordable with new type of batteries and software loaded that can teach her those basic skills, and even more subjects. The new system detects the level of engagement and frustration, adapts to offer an adequate teaching methodology, creates analytics, and real-time logs for improving her education level automatically, all of this without a human teacher on site.
If you could imagine that in detail, then you are looking at the winner of the Global Literacy XPrize. It’s a contest where people committed to help children in developed and developing countries teach those basic skills will be competing in creating such an intelligent system. A state-of-the-art literacy methodologies and content, which could potentially be used in any language will enable all that, while those children using it could pass standardized evaluations, similar to the ones in developed countries.
One of the teams participating, for instance, consists of people from Mexico, India, Poland, Spain, Congo, and USA. They are utilizing the basic technology and understand the needed methodologies to craft such a complicated technology. If they succeed in doing so, they will be attacking the core of one of the grand challenges of humanity.
But this is not just their only objective; the reward of contributing in leveraging AI techniques, and psychological and literacy approaches into providing a more fair world for any child, with future access to it, is such a mesmerizing and reachable dream.
In the same spirit, XPrize has recently launched a spin-off called heroX. This is a platform where Indiegogo meets Craigslist. It invites any person or organization to craft prize concepts, design, fund, crowdfund and compete for those prizes, so anyone can launch those amazing and extraordinary competitions, and see problems being solved by any other person in the world, by the incentive of the monetary reward attributed to it, leveraged by the innovation that exists anywhere.
These are extraordinary times: we, and any society in the world, have the intuition, innovation, and will to be able to conquer any problem in the world, with the help of inspired individuals who could be found anywhere.
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