Dawn of Civilization (DOC)
Solve Education! uses game mechanics and AI to provide engaging educational opportunities to students who otherwise would not have access to school. Our game-based educational application runs on low-end smartphones and intermittent internet, and is designed to engage students’ hunger for learning and improve income prospects in a knowledge economy.
Hundreds of millions of young people face barriers to education linked to poverty, diversity politics, gender, disability, armed conflict and displacement. Poor access to quality education entrenches cycles of inequality by preventing disadvantaged youth from attaining the skills to change their economic situation in an ever-changing world.
Today, smartphones and the internet can touches the lives of many of the children that education fails to reach. By 2020, 70% of the world will have a basic smartphone, and intermittent internet connectivity. The education technology industry has seen the opportunity and creates software with a particular market in mind. But the families who can pay for this technology are not the ones who need it most.
At Solve Education!, a not-for-profit organisation, our vision is a world where all students can access education and gain confidence in their ability to learn. We seek to use technology to bring free, engaging educational software to the low-end phones and intermittent internet connectivity that will soon cover the globe.
Most existing educational technology assumes that its paying users are motivated to learn. We understand that when students are marginalised from employment, it is nearly impossible to be motivated to learn the skills for that marketplace. With this in mind, we use evidence from successful game developers to create a game so engaging that students become addicted to playing, and to learning. We build in real-life incentives by directly linking success in the game to opportunities on our online employment platform.
The design of our game encourages students to be independent, analytical problem-solvers; fostering skills for a changing world. Following learning journeys personalised and guided by Artificial Intelligence, Dawn of Civilisation will empower students with skills and confidence to face the challenges of a changing world, and transform their own lives.
263 million children around the world are out of school, while millions of others receive an education which fails to provide them with the technical, critical thinking and problem-solving skills they need to enter the changing workforce of the future and transform their lives. The children at the highest risk of being left behind are those who face barriers linked to poverty, diversity politics, gender, disability, armed conflict and displacement. Poor access to quality education entrenches cycles of inequality by preventing disadvantaged children from attaining the skills to change their economic situation.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
Our vision is for future generations to have equal access to the knowledge economy. To do this, young people need critical and technical skills and confidence in their ability to learn, adapt to changes and solve problems. Globally, many students without access to quality schooling (263 million) have access to low-end smartphone and broadband technology (70% of the world population by 2020). DOC uses techniques of game development to engage students’ hunger and confidence to learn, and develop critical thinking skills. Our online employment platform, Solve Employment!, will directly link success in the game to employment opportunities, further increasing motivation.
Our target outcomes:
Our target outcome is to create systems and technologies which engage students and develop their skills, but can be accessed on low-end technology. We want to empower the hundreds of millions of students who currently do not have access to quality education and participation in the knowledge economies of the future, impacting the lives of individuals and communities who are marginalised by current patterns of educational distribution. Our vision is that this in turn benefits entire developing-world economies which are currently ostracised from the international knowledge economy.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
Most educational apps are made to generate profit, and designed for high end phones. We are unique in creating an app which will be free and able to operate on the low-end phones often owned by children out of school. Most ed-tech app developers assume students’ motivation to learn. We realise that students who are marginalised may not be motivated to learn skills for markets from which they are marginalised. To increase motivation, we are linking our app to an employment platform to incentivise progress. We also use knowledge from game development to ensure the game is engaging, retaining users.
Why our solution is human-centered:
Our organisation is devoted to overcoming barriers that limit student access to education and as such, marginalise them from the economy. Our focus is on finding ways to make learning compulsively engaging on a platform that allows it to reach those who need it most. By collecting data on student learning behaviours, we are able to respond to their needs and modify the game according to what promotes the best learning. As a human-centred technology, it is easy for users to submit ideas for the game development. In fact, the app name and its characters were voted by our users.
How people will access our solution:
The priority for our team is that the technology can be distributed for free to users who cannot pay for it. In order to maximise accessibility, the technology is aimed at low-end phones with intermittent internet connectivity. We deploy the technology through local community organisations who are working directly with out-of-school children—e.g., the local organisations bring a portable router to the centre, where children download the application from Google Play. Whenever they are connected to internet, their progress is synced to and updated by our server. Users do not need to be connected to continue playing.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
How we will sustain our team financially:
In order to be able to provide our service free-of-charge, we are creating revenue streams by providing commercial educational services to businesses. In partnership with language education experts, we are building a customised learning platform for corporate organisations who seek to train their staff in English. We have engaged firm interest in this service from major airlines, hotels and restaurants, banks, and telecommunication companies. We have also secured donations and grants from companies and organisations. In the future, we hope to make our non-profit sustainable, relying on a combination of philanthropy and business revenue.
The factors limiting our success:
Our solution depends on the roll-out of low-end smartphone technology and minimal internet connection. It is forecast that 70% of the world’s population will access this by 2020, however many of the world’s most marginalised people will still be unreachable to us.
Our success also relies on our game being engaging enough to retain users long into their learning journey. For this we draw on expertise in game psychology and pedagogy. We use AI and data collection to respond to learners’ behaviour and engagement, and integrate social media and employment opportunities to increase the real world appeal of the game.
How long we have been working on our solution:2 years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:12-18 months
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
Our promotional materials:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
As a non-profit organisation, our interest is firmly in impacting the lives of hundreds of millions of out-of-school children, not in capturing a profit-generating market. The scale of our ambition is enormous, and in order to achieve our vision, we must partner with communities, leaders, organisations, resources, expertise and media from across the globe. We hope to be a part of the MIT Solve community so we can do this.
Our current partners:
- 12 local organisations facilitate direct access to our target users in four countries;
- A big data company help us better understand user behaviour and discover significant factors to support effective learning;
- AI expert assists the development of technology;
- ESL and Math education experts assist us to develop our curriculum.