X Prize was founded by entrepreneur and futurist Peter Diamandis. It deals with several projects including cleaning up our oceans, sending people to the moon, developing a real life Star Trek tricoder, and many more.
This venerable non-profit organization announced another very ambitious goal on Monday. It wants to build software that will allow children to teach themselves to read and write.
X Price is offering $15 million to fund open source software that can re-make education especially in the developing world.
Diamandis says his team is looking for software that is artificially intelligent so it can perfectly understand how students learn and what their interests are so as to keep them more engaged in their education.
“This 200-year-old industrial age educational system that we all grew up in, in which we all sit in a classroom, the bell rings we change classrooms? Inevitably, half the students are lost, and half are bored. The question is: How do you change that so it is personalized education? That’s possible, and that’s the goal,” Diamandis said when announcing the prize.
“We’re aiming at kids who live in villages where there’s nothing. This has to take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy,” he added.
There is no shortage of technological innovation in education these days, Diamandis admits. The last few years have seen many models such as the massive open online course, promising to give elite global education to anyone online for free.
But in as much as this is important, Diamandis says it often assumes higher state of learning than exists. For example, there are quite a large number of people who do not have the basics of education, and even those who do not know how to use the web and those who do not know how to type URL.
That’s why Diamandis and his teams aim to cater for kids who live in the villages where there’s nothing. They want software that can take them from complete illiteracy to basic reading, writing and numeracy.
The foundation is now raising funds through crowdfunding and it aims at having the software available for every smartphone and tablet out there.