O-lab: Empowering Underrepresented Learners Worldwide
One-line solution summary.
Bridging the digital divide in education with our accessible, empowering, and personalized learning app & LMS for last-mile learners worldwide.
What is your solution?
Fundación El Origen is an NGO with the aim of eradicating the overwhelming gap to opportunities by providing accessible and inclusive digital learning for underrepresented youth worldwide. Our project works by creating partnerships with communities, to reach youth and provide them with the support needed to further their education.
To achieve this goal, we have developed O-lab: the learning app that is bridging the digital divide. It functions offline, on low-cost devices and has a virtual assistant that translates content to any language, even inidigenous tongues for last-mile learners.
It empowers youth by providing complementary education, STEAM, and entrepreneurship courses co-created by quality educational institutions to guide youth to access quality education, increase future skills and develop projects for their communities.
By maintaining constant dialogue and training with communities where O-Lab is implemented, we are closing the digital illiteracy and guiding youth to develop 21st century skills to thrive.
What specific problem are you trying to solve?
O-lab was born from the interest of the young activist Tania Rosas, in providing digital tools for Indigenous girls with limited access to education in the region she was born. She founded Fundación El Origen in 2015 to close the digital divide for the youth population living in rural communities.
Education is a cornerstone of sustainable development through empowerment.
Globally, ⅔ of school-age students do not have access to digital learning. 3.5 million school-age refugees are currently out of school, and only 3% of refugees will enroll in college. In addition, after Covid-19, more than 11 million girls worldwide could not return to school due to lack of connectivity and inclusivity.
Therefore, we believe in this digital age we can use technology as an equalizer that is able to offer individualized and inclusive education. More specifically, to ensure that at-risk youth do not fall further behind in their education and can become leaders from their communities.
Who does your solution serve? In what ways will the solution impact their lives?
O-lab was born in the indigenous capital of Colombia, where only 29% of youth finish school. Youth face barriers to education and job opportunities as a result of poor digital education and 21st century skills. 70% of them are women.
In addition, Two-thirds of the world’s school-age students do not have access to digital education and over 400 million girls will not secure secondary-level skills by 2030.
We founded this organization as young innovative women coming from underrepresented communities ourselves. Thus, we believe in young people as agents of change, and education as our best ally. We also believe O-lab to be a tool to help at-risk youth further education and find their path toward success.
Therefore, through O-Lab we are providing complementary education, digital skills, entrepreneurship and empowerment courses co-created with partner institutions and we also empower local teachers to create interactive content in minutes through O-lab LMS to equip at-risk youth with the knowdlege and tools to become leaders.
What steps have you taken to understand the needs of the population you want to serve?
Before the pandemic, we were working in my community providing a personalized digital solution for more than 4.000 at-risk youth every year. As a response to the COVID-19 crisis and the school closures, we received requests from rural teachers worldwide to use our technology to help students in their communities to don’t fall behind. We began training rural teachers remotely worldwide and improving our technology based on their feedback and collective designs, so they were rapidly able to create interactive content based on their local curriculum and access to a variety of complementary education and vocational courses co-created by partner educational institutions as well through O-lab. The O-lab offline mobile app easily became an educational provider to ensure that learning doesn't stop for more than 50.000 at-risk students worldwide, every year. We have seen great success with our work:
8 out of 10 beneficiaries continued their education during the pandemic thanks to O-lab (6 to 17 years old),
8 out of 10 obtained certification in at least one complementary course we co-created with universities through O-lab (16-18 years old),
5 out of 10 started a STEAM or entrepreneurship project in their communities guided by O-lab (17-28 years old).
Through our work, at-risk youth (especially indigenous, immigrants, and young women) are developing job skills, improving educational outcomes, and accessing opportunities to realize success during COVID times and beyond.
Which aspects of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Improving learning opportunities and outcomes for learners across their lifetimes, from early childhood on (Learning)
Our solution's stage of development:Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in at least one community, which is poised for further growth
Explain why you selected this stage of development for your solution—in other words, what have you accomplished to date?
Currently, our work concentrates in Colombia, mainly in the area of La Guajira; the region with the highest school dropout rate and the largest population of Indigenous groups. Although this is our main area of implementation, we feel deeply connected to other regions suffering similar inequalities. For this very reason, we are currently leading projects with educational organizations across the Global South that use O-lab in their local communities, adapting the platform to their local needs.
By working with community leaders across the Global South, we plan to scale up our project and impact over 50,000 youth. We want to give young leaders the opportunity to lead their own projects with O-lab, and ensure access to quality of education in their own community. Therefore, we plan on building a strong basis in other areas with organizations that can simultaneously progress our goal to leave no student behind.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Bogotá, Bogota, Colombia
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?A new technology
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
O-lab is an LMS and offline learning app adapted as a response for education in emergency situations.
O-lab works offline, is versatile, light-weight, and fully-functional on low-cost devices.
O-lab includes a virtual assistant that guides beneficiaries in their native language (aiding in language and literacy development). We are improving our technology to AI to create a more personalized approach and customize content, avatars, and languages to the local culture and context automatically.
Finally, our community engagement approach makes our platform all about interaction where every student can participate and be heard.
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
How many people does your solution currently serve, and how many do you plan to serve in the next year? If you haven’t yet launched your solution, tell us how many people you plan to serve in the next year.
Due to the school closures at the beginning of 2020, O-lab began as an education provider for rural schools in Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Pakistan, and the Philippines to directly benefit more than 10,000 young people at risk of dropping out during 2021, by helping them access digital education for the first time. In fact, over 83% of our beneficiaries have confirmed that O-lab has empowered them, helped them improve their academic performance, and furthered their education from home and school. We've trained more than 500 teachers to develop digital literacy and empowered them with the use of our LMS and app O-lab as a virtual assistance to engage students, reduce school dropouts, and further their education without barriers. By forming partnerships and alliances this number will continue growing, and by the end of 2022 we expect to have reached an impact of more than 50,000 beneficiaries and continue to empower local teachers and rural schools across the Global South to have access to digital education in vulnerable areas every year.
In five years, our global growth will see us settled in countries throughout the Global South and refugee campuses worldwide. We expect to see the number of at-risk students taking part in an educational institution increased with an expected reach of a minimum of 1 million direct beneficiaries.
What are your impact goals for the next year, and how will you achieve them?
Our short-term (1 year ) goal during this first year is to continue our current work and reach our +10,000 beneficiaries milestone. We plan to set out a strong basis and logic model for the coming years. We also expect to involve development evaluation, continue to build strong partnerships with community-based organizations, and partake in a culturally responsive evaluation in our current and future work areas.
Our intermediate-term (5 year) goal, in addition to seeing our beneficiaries continue their education and seeing a reduced number in drop-out rates by those students reached through our project. Our global growth is expected to see us settled in countries throughout LAC and throughout the Global South. In five years, we expect to see the number of underrepresented students taking part in educational institutions and projects increased. Lastly, we expect to reach a minimum of 1 million beneficiaries, all of whom will have access to self-esteem, goal setting, and racial healing courses.
As a result, our main points of interest are to:
Increase our partnership with rural schools across LATAM and the Global South to empower female teachers to adapt digital tools.
Enhance our personalized programming to adapt O-lab to each user automatically (AI)
Focus on community engagement and dialectic education.
How are you measuring your progress or planning to measure your progress toward your impact goals?
Qualitative evaluation and data is a key metric for us to track our success, for we know having a wide reach alone does not exemplify an impactful growth. Therefore, we incorporate a culturally responsive evaluation that considers the views and experiences of students, instructors, and community leaders. Through community focus groups and case studies, we are able analyze how our project is impacting the learning process and livelihood of at-risk children and youth. Additionally, with the focus groups and interviews with beneficiaries, we have the ability to gain insight on their perception of how O-lab has changed their pedagogy approach. We also utilize surveys and assessments to measure the students’ improvement and understanding in their course material through our O-Lab data analytics platform that tracks and produces quantitative results. Lastly, the number of beneficiaries that continue using O-Lab for their programs, the amount that start their own community or social projects, as well as the amount that show increased self-esteem and socio-cultural awareness, function as indicators of our success.
How many people work on your solution team?
Full-time 13 Part-time 2
How long have you been working on your solution?
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
An important part of our project is its personalized approach, as we started in a community in which our CEO was born in. Therefore, we understand the importance of locally built solutions and prioritized our collaboration and partnerships with community led organizations. Every new step to grow our project is done tactfully taking into account culture, personal-biases, institutional practices, and community needs. We incorporate culturally responsive evaluation that considers views and experiences of students, teachers, parents and leaders, in respect to the effect of the projects. Through community focus groups and case studies, we will analyze how perception of culture, heritage, and roles in educational processes has changed. Supporting this, we will utilize surveys and assessments to measure the improvement and understanding in schools through our O-lab data analytics platform which produces more quantitative results like school reports, basic learning rights, 21st century abilities and socio-emotional competences.
Furthemore, Fundacion El Origen is led by a community of young innovators coming from different backgrounds and regions worldwide. From immigrants, Indigenous, and Afro-descendant leaders, we are committed to awaken the next generation of young leaders by bringing access to inclusive, empowering, and personalized digital education for all.
Lastly, and most importantly, O-lab is a solution made by young innovators from underserved communities themselves with the goal of empowering and bringing representation to the younger generations across the globe.
What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?
We have partnerships with World Vision Colombia, W Bank, Children Change Colombia, Save the Children Perú, Teach for Paraguay, DHL, INI Mexico, NDI, Teach for South Africa, and Cambridge Global Challenges. We have been recognized and maintain affiliation with the Obama Foundation, YLAI initiative by the US Department of State and the United States Institute of Peace.
We believe that those closest to the problem are the most apt at solving it. Because of this, we believe in tailored and adaptable solutions that are easy to use and easier to scale. Therefore, with our partners, we make equal opportunity to education become a global reality.
More specifically, with our partners, we co-create content that will suit the specific group we are reaching to empower. By partnering with private institutions, they are able to sponsor learners worldwide, while we create the courses, digitize them, and supply them.
Do you qualify for and would you like to be considered for The HP Girls Save the World Prize? If you select Yes, explain how you are qualified for the prize in the additional question that appears.Yes
Adeline Padilla Project Leader, Origin Learning Fund