Winner #WestAfricacom Game-Changing Innovation

CyberSmart Africa, provider of a mobile digital learning platform to schools without electricity, is the winner of the Game-Changing Innovation award at the prestigious West Africa Com Awards that took place today July 11, 2017 in Dakar Senegal.

The West Africa Com Awards celebrates the most impressive achievements in West Africa’s telecommunications, digital and ICT sectors. The award for Game-Changing Innovation honors the new product, solution or business model that has the potential to change the way the market works.

The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform delivers up-to-date learning and teaching resources to the vast majority of schools that have no electricity. This all-in-one mobile device offers the world’s most advanced learning technologies, quality multimedia content and teacher training.

Easy to use as a mobile phone, the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform is simple to use and simpler to maintain. Teachers push a single button and teach. Previously unavailable instructional materials — maps, photos, videos and up-to-date quality content—directly support classroom learning.

Jim Teicher, CEO and founder of CyberSmart Africa noted “Our strategy is based on insights from our 9-year grassroots collaboration with teachers across rural Senegal. I am very excited to receive this award and want to acknowledge the many Senegalese teachers who shared their thinking with us over the past years.

We learned from them that it’s simply impossible to adapt existing commercially available technologies to address the digital divide. That’s why we created the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform. We cut out cumbersome equipment, eliminated costly structural requirements and adopted a whole-class model to immediately impact the greatest number of students. At each point along the way, the Senegalese teachers input guided us to the solution that won this award today. Thankyou.”

 

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A 9 year local grassroots collaboration

CyberSmart Africa’s strategy is based on insights from our 9-year grassroots collaboration with teachers across rural Senegal.We learned that it’s simply impossible to adapt existing commercially available technologies. The reality is that these existing technologies were not designed for use in developing countries. That’s why we created the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform.

With the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform, teachers push a single button and teach. Previously unavailable instructional materials — maps, photos, videos and up-to-date quality content—directly support classroom learning.

Pictured below- the community celebrates in our first pilot school. We were honored guests.

Science education in Sub-Saharan Africa using CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform

Sciences lessons using images, videos and interactive learning, at Ecole Sinthiou Mbadane 1 in rural Senegal, teaches students the critical importance of avoiding and recognizing parasitic diseases to reduce the risk of serious illness.

Even schools without electricity — the vast majority of all schools in sub-Saharan Africa – can benefit from this engaging instruction using The CyberSmart Digital Learning platform.

Later, these same students are administered the appropriate dosage of anti-parasite medication.

A tangled failed mess.

Photo taken of a tangled mess of wires in a rural Senegalese school #ict4d project that hasn’t been used in years. No maintenance. No teacher training. No student learning. The solution? The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform – as easy to use as a mobile phone.

Sustainable Digital Learning in Senegal

I just returned from visiting Potou Elementary School on the edge of the Sahara Desert in rural Senegal. In this remote location it was thrilling to observe teachers collaborating and coaching each other to use The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform – a breakthrough approach for digital whole-class learning in schools without electricity.

Given that formal teacher training had ended the year before, it would have been easy for teachers to slide back to their traditional lecture strategy while the digital learning platform sat unused. What I observed was a clear signal that the teachers were getting real value in adopting whole-class digital learning. “It makes my job easier,” I was told.

The teacher asks,

“Where do chickens live? Where do cows live?”

Students respond with enthusiasm “At home!”

THREE KEY TAKE-AWAYS

  1. Simplicity. Simple equipment is the key enabler of CyberSmart ‘s strategy to make educational technology as easy to use as a mobile phone. We are using the Android operating system, the dominant operating system found in mobile phones. This translates into tremendous preexisting familiarity among teachers.

Plus, simplifying technology simplifies instruction for the teachers. Easy access to multimedia content like virtual science experiments and graphical images supports learning in ways the developed world takes for granted. For example, it takes just a few seconds for a teacher to use a graphical image of a chicken (above) that they otherwise would have had to hand-draw on a chalkboard. I observed the difference in student engagement, which is tremendous.

2. Efficient Use of Solar Power. Solar power is a critical component of sustainable digital instruction for the simple reason that the vast majority of schools in the developing world have unreliable access to electricity or are not connected to the power grid.

The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform is specially designed to use minimal power and employs a unique solar-charging system with a removable battery. The battery is quickly charged and contains enough power to teach up to four lessons.

3. Effective Economics of Scale. Using a pedagogically sound whole-class learning model ensures maximum impact on the largest quantity of students, while also achieving the lowest cost per student. The cost per student is low because infrastructure requirements are totally eliminated, and we have radically minimized the amount of equipment being used.

In fact, the cost to deliver high quality digital learning using The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform can be as low as $0.36 per child/month – less than any other digital learning solution. Our economic model also considers the total cost of ownership, including maintenance and teacher training.

BREAKTHROUGH EQUIPMENT DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY and SCALE 

The solar-powered CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform is an all-in-one mobile device that was designed based on lessons learned in Potou and other rural Senegalese schools

The UN Sustainable Development Goals affirm the importance of harnessing digital learning to meet the dire need for education in developing nations. But during our 10 years here in Senegal we have observed many educational technology programs fail simply because it is not possible to adapt existing commercially available technologies to meet the needs of the developing world. We have seen many schools where the equipment just sits unused, which is why we developed The CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform.

Working in partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of Education and  The Earth Institute at Columbia University; CyberSmart Africa is a social enterprise that is harnessing mobile technology in a bold, new way that has enormous potential for quick uptake and massive impact.

Simplifying teacher adoption

Teachers find it easy to coach each other in their classrooms using the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform. Simplifying teacher adoption represents our strategy to impact massive quantities of school. Les enseignants trouvent qu’il est facile de coach dans leurs salles de classe en utilisant the CyberSmart Digital Learning Platform. Simplifier l’adoption des enseignants représente notre stratégie d’impact massif de l’école.