Naida Kardas and Charif Hamidi – October 21, 2018
An edtech social enterprise aspires to transform education and make ubiquitous equitable access to education a reality
Although the world is becoming increasingly more intricate and divergent and technology even more powerful and disruptive, we continue to assume the industrial era model classroom, ‘sage on stage’ instruction, age-based grade levels, and physical characteristics concerning school reform. Today, 274 million primary school children worldwide are not learning basic foundational skills necessary to lead productive and healthy lives. Even more troubling, The National Assessment of Educational Progress, a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), has stated that students in the U.S. have made little to no gains in math and reading since 2007. This stagnation has been labeled as a “lost decade” for education reform.
The current education model is simply outdated. School was once designed to create industrialized workers, working on only one portion of an assembly line. Today’s world, driven by a knowledge economy requires reasoning, solving problems and constructing viable arguments. As emerging technologies rapidly and thoroughly transform the workplace, experts predict that 800 million workers worldwide will be replaced by robots by 2030. The ability to adapt and quickly acquire new skills will become paramount for survival, and the education sector must embrace this necessity.
The education model requires immediate deconstruction if we are to meet the constant changes we will face during this revolution and beyond. The potential of educational innovation is less about computing power and lines of code and more about the opportunity to break free from dogmatic assumptions regarding how instruction and learning are organized and delivered. Past reforms and solutions have been supplementing outdated practices and fantasizing that innovative changes are being implemented in schools, but the data paints a picture of one trying to catch up via duct taping holes on a sinking ship. That’s why, here at Ed4.0 (Education 4.0), we decided to rip off the band aid.
Ed4.0 is an education innovation social enterprise that is committed to leverage technology to break free from traditional high fixed cost models of education and optimize learning processes with the purpose of empowering youth in Africa and the Middle-East to succeed in future labor markets, unlock economic prosperity and achieve social justice in their communities and beyond.
Our vision is comprehensive and focuses on educational innovation that creates the ability to unhinge ourselves from the factory-style classrooms and the accustomed conjecture regarding development and delivery of instruction. The core of our innovation is not about the physical aspect of technology or its software abilities relating to simply designing or producing more tools. The primary aim is to design customized education models that take advantage of the capabilities provided by these newly developed tools.
We begin by designing innovative differentiated curricula, instruction and learning strategies, and pedagogical programs with a backward design approach by the deconstruction of standards to their foundational levels ensuring conceptual understanding. Using smart mapping of different sets of educational standards, we design a multitude of tasks for each standard by analyzing gaps and assessing needs of students, progression and the labor market. Reasoning from these facts we match the innovative curricula with the appropriate education technology tools and hands on experiences generating a blended learning environment. Therefrom the logistics, ergonomics and economics of the program are selected based on the gaps and sustainability objectives within each individual community. Currently, we are implementing four types of programs that have been institutionalized by governments or scaled up by private sponsors and impact investors:
- Ed4.0 Mobile: a mobile school that travels across the most remote rural villages of North West Africa to deliver accelerated programs that aim to close gaps in numeracy and literacy for K-6 children and train teachers on differentiated learning.
- Ed4.0 Smart Labs: a low-cost solar powered pedagogical space consisting of an 40x10x8ft recycled shipping container turned into a tech enabled classroom focused on experiential learning, that allows students, parents, teachers, and administrators in remote rural areas to engage in scratch coding, financial literacy, female hygiene education, and global citizenship programs along with other Ed4.0 curricula.
- Ed4.0 Green Classroom: a green classroom featuring aquaponics and hydroponics to teach rural agricultural communities about innovative methods and principles of growing food, sustainability, and nutrition.
- Ed4.0 MOOCs: Online and offline MOOC solutions that train teachers on state-of-the-art learning and instruction strategies.
Simultaneously, a sensitivity analysis is conducted allowing convenient consolidation of our comprehensive program to ensure optimal usage of resources. After the innovative program is launched, Ed4.0 conducts a variety of action research projects (ARs) and research control trials (RCTs) to test beyond the binary element. We measure not only whether the student has met the standard but also the depth and level of complexity of comprehension. The results show that even when the students, especially those living is lower socioeconomic status areas, meet the standard, they only understand it at a procedural level and cannot adapt their knowledge to solve it even with the slightest modifications. Such R&D and social impact activities are funded through Ed4.0’s consultancy arm, which provides advisory services to governments, ministries of education, foundations, and private equity firms on projects that deal with policy, technology, professional development, and capital transactions.
The research results demanded the design of a revolutionary education technology software that liberated itself from the archaic education model and created an adaptive, differentiated model that would meet the needs of today and tomorrow.
Ed4.0 has undertaken the development of the first adaptive learning STEM technology solution that engages each student in a pedagogical exchange powered via advanced AI algorithms. This ensures an individualized learning journey that develops conceptual math understanding with a strong foundation in number sense. Beginning in Kindergarten, we put mathematics in context, engineering to develop curiosity and passion for understanding the world and explaining it through mathematics. In addition to STEM, the solution focuses on developing social skills, global citizenship, and financial literacy.
Ed4.0 immerses the student in a polyvalent pedagogical program that involves rigorous tasks designed with multiple entry points and multiple levels of success and outcomes. With the use of AI, Ed 4.0 focuses not just on the answer but on the process of finding the solution. Students learn how to evaluate situations, determine relevant information and choose efficient strategies for computations, thus preparing them for a constantly evolving labor market.
Alongside the ground-breaking impact the solution will have on student achievement in all domains and paradigms of education, we embed a mission driven social business model that matches each purchased subscription with one additional being provided for free to an underprivileged student having no access to quality education. Our objective is to provide 3.2 million disadvantaged students access to our solution free of cost via our business model.
The digital age has facilitated a transformation of nearly every industry, but education. Now the time has come to emancipate ourselves from many of the assumptions bolstering classic methods of instruction delivery and design bespoke models that truly leverage existing infrastructures and technology to best meet the unique needs of each student. This is what we would like to discuss and shed the light on during our panel discussion at Global WIL 2018, titled: “Can AI and technology drive social impact?”