Empowering children to take control of their own learning



Frequently Asked Questions

  • In order to prove that tablet-enabled, child-driven learning is possible, we are focusing on remote areas of the world where access to quality education is either limited or non-existent, where schools and properly equipped teachers are scarce and where literacy has the most potential to lift people out of poverty. While the findings from this prize will have global implications and can be adopted anywhere in the world, the focus of this prize is on areas of the world where the need is greatest.

  • A goal of the Global Learning XPRIZE is to show that software can help children learn reading, writing and arithmetic by themselves. We would like to create an environment in which that software has the greatest chance of success, and tablets provide a much richer experience than mobile phones. We also expect that tablets will be far more readily available to children ages 7 - 10 than mobile phones will be. We hope that governments around the world will invest in devices to deploy the software developed for this XPRIZE. They are more likely to make that investment in tablets since they can be used in a wide range of educational applications.

  • Every XPRIZE is different and requires a different timeframe. This is approximately a 4-year prize that begins with a 6-month registration period, followed by an 15-month solution development phase where we ask teams to design their original solutions and create original content. We will then deploy the solutions of the five Finalist teams into the field for an 15-month testing period. The depth of this study is unlike anything that has been done before.

  • An XPRIZE with a $15 million incentive can ignite the creation of breakthrough technology-based learning solutions. We believe that such solutions should be made available for the world to iterate, improve upon and deploy. Unlike other XPRIZE competitions where there are clear market incentives (present or future) for competing, this competition is focusing on bringing learning solutions to the poorest children on Earth.

  • The total prize purse will be $15 million. Each of the five Finalists will be awarded $1 million, and the Grand Prize winner will be awarded $10 million.

  • This is approximately a 4-year competition that includes a 6-month team registration period, 18 months for solution development and a 15-month field-testing period.

  • The Finalists’ solutions will be open-sourced for iteration, sharing and future development. If XPRIZE can prove that children can teach themselves and each other how to read, write, and do basic math, the breakthrough in how the world thinks about how children learn would be explosive. From that moment onward, we believe that governments, international institutions and individuals from around the world will invest in technology proven to help children learn how to read. The end result of a successfully designed and operated prize is the creation of a new industry or industry-catalyzing technologies.

  • Yes, this is the first truly global competition launched by XPRIZE. Not only will we be actively recruiting teams from all over the world, the solutions being developed for this prize are intended for—and will be tested—internationally.

  • Children are every country’s greatest natural resource. They represent the hope of a better future for a village, for a country, for the world. Right now, in every corner of the globe, hundreds of millions of children will never realize their innate potential not because they lack ability, but simply because they lack opportunity. This waste of human potential results in continued poverty for millions of people and entire nations. The Global Learning XPRIZE represents an opportunity for this generation of children to escape economic despair because it offers the potential for a solution that works, that is scalable and that can be deployed immediately upon proof of concept.

  • Learning how to read, write and demonstrate basic math are essential building blocks for those who want to live free from poverty and its limitations. Literate children are less likely to live in poverty, and more likely to live healthy and productive lives. Countries with high literacy levels provide for their citizens and create opportunities for the world. In addition, when children learn how to learn, they lay the groundwork for a lifetime of continued exploration and achievement.

  • Compete, share and advocate. We anticipate teams and supporters from around the world, and we will help you meet individuals and teams that can help you achieve your goals for supporting the competition.

  • If successful, the Global Learning XPRIZE will help supplement educational systems around the world. Teachers that teach in over-crowded classrooms will have the tools they need at their disposal. Governments that struggle to build new schools and train new teachers will begin to see technology as a way to reach large populations of children more effectively. The Global Learning XPRIZE seeks to supplement existing education systems in a dramatic way, not supplant them.

  • UNESCO has excellent statistics on literacy worldwide, and the Education for All Initiative gives outstanding context and meaning to those numbers.

  • Software developed for the Global Learning XPRIZE must be released under the Apache License, 2.0, for a team to become a Finalist. Content must be released under the Creative Commons CC-BY 4.0 license. Teams that are not selected as Finalists are not required to release any of their entry under an open source license.

  • Teams were encouraged to build on - and contribute to - existing Open Source projects. Teams had to include in their entries all source code required to build their software. Software from other sources could be included under any Open Source license provided that license did not prohibit the team's own code from being released under the Apache License, 2.0 and no other license. There are several such licenses, including the Apache, BSD, and MIT licenses.

  • One of the goals of the Global Learning XPRIZE was the creation of technology that was portable and localizable around the world. Submitting the identical software in both languages was not required, but unless the differences were minor and reasonable to accommodate both languages, such a submission would have been unlikely to demonstrate localizability.

  • Existing code and content was entirely permissible. Teams were encouraged to build upon their existing work to create the strongest possible entry. However, all code and content submitted had to be releasable under the Apache License, 2.0 and CC-BY 4.0 licenses if the team was chosen as a Finalist. If a team held the copyright to existing materials but used a different license, they would have needed to relicense those materials under the Apache and Creative Commons licenses.

  • No, it was not. The Global Learning XPRIZE was designed to create a robust open source software community for learning. In order to reach the greatest number of children, the Finalist software had to be readily adaptable by anyone. An existing free runtime could have limitations that may not have been discovered during the Global Learning XPRIZE, such as problems with right-to-left or non-alphabetic languages, or difficulty adapting to different display sizes. The open source community growing around the Global Learning XPRIZE needed to be able to make changes in such libraries to expand their use and availability.

    In addition, a proprietary runtime that was currently available at no cost to users may not stay that way forever. Vendors were entitled to change their licensing terms and fees. The Global Learning XPRIZE would not have wanted to create a situation in which a particular proprietary technology was adopted widely and then licensed under different terms by the vendor.

    In some cases, the availability of no-cost runtimes had discouraged the development of true open source alternatives to existing products. We hoped the Global Learning XPRIZE would create the community and financial incentives to grow those open source projects.

  • The Finalist entries had to be licensed under terms that would permit anyone in the world to adapt and modify them. We did not require that the tools used for that adaptation be free, low-cost, or even available on multiple platforms. They simply needed to be available to allow the licensed Finalist code and content to be used as the Global Learning XPRIZE intended.

  • The Field Test is using Google Pixel C tablets.

  • XPRIZE sponsors and manages the Global Learning XPRIZE Competition on GitHub. XPRIZE will provide each team with a private repository and administrative access to it. XPRIZE will manage at least one public repository in that organization, and assist in its administration. Such repositories will provide homes for collaborative efforts supporting this prize. Teams are encouraged to collaborate on common tasks as much as possible so they can devote their resources to the unique capabilities of their designs.

  • Certainly - welcome! While being a team member gives you a chance at the Finalist and Grand Prizes, not everyone is able to make the commitment that such an effort requires. However, many people in the open source community support the Global Learning XPRIZE's goals and want to be part of the robust learning environment that the prize will create. Collaborative groups who are not competitors are already forming.

  • The judges will be using the criteria described in the Global Learning XPRIZE Guidelines. Judges will be provided with tablets on which entries have been installed, and they will be able to use them as they are to be used in the field test. Depending on the number of entries, not all entries may be seen by all judges. Judges will be able to communicate and cooperate to jointly evaluate all entries. Teams are encouraged to submit any supporting materials along with their entries, and those materials will be made available to the judges. The judges do their work independently of XPRIZE and their decisions are final. Judges may select up to five Finalists, each of which will receive a USD $1 million prize, but may select fewer than five if they wish to do so.

  • The Global Learning XPRIZE is a competition about collaboration, and we need to balance those needs throughout the life of the prize. The Finalists will be permitted to update their entries during the field trials after 1, 4, 8 and 12 months. Understandably, Finalists would prefer not to release their entries to other Finalists until the field trials are over. XPRIZE will make arrangements with the Finalists to ensure that their entries, including any updates during the field trials, will be released under the appropriate licenses when the competition is complete. Release of the USD $1 million Finalist awards will be contingent on the satisfactory completion of those arrangements.

  • All competitors will know what country will host testing prior to the close of registration. The field trial will involve approximately 175 villages with a total of approximately 3,500 children. The 175 villages will be assessed demographically and assigned to six groups so that each group has similar characteristics. Each of the Finalists will be assigned to one of those groups, and the sixth group will act as the control group and receive no software until the field trial has completed. XPRIZE does not intend to announce the names of these 175 villages, but given that many people will be involved in the field trials, we cannot guarantee that they will remain a secret. XPRIZE will not announce which Finalists are assigned to which villages until the end of the field trial. Finalists are prohibited from attempting to discover where their entries are being used and are prohibited from attempting any communication with those villages, other than the data collection process provided by XPRIZE.

  • Each of the five teams’ solutions are being deployed across more than 150 villages in a developing country, reaching a total of 3,000 children (ages approximately 8-11). The competition will take place in Tanzania, where Swahili is a primary language of instruction.