The Economist and InnoCentive, Inc. just announced the winner of their joint 21st Century Cyber-Schools Challenge.  Dr. Andrew Deonarine, a second year medical resident in the Public Health and Preventative Medicine program at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a junior fellow at St. John’s College, will be awarded $10,000 and will present his winning plan at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential Event on September 15-16. The Challenge, which prompted the opening of over 1,200 project rooms and received over 100 submissions on the InnoCentive website, asked participants to address the problem of providing educational opportunities to the tens of millions of school-age students in developing nations around the world.

Dr. Deonarine’s EduCell plan is a cellular phone-based educational system that has content creation, distribution, and delivery capabilities.  It provides a platform for basic literacy through “phonecasting.”  EduCell can run on a variety of electronic devices, such as cellular phones, PDAs, embedded devices, and computers. With very few maintenance requirements, EduCell can be used to educate large segments of a given population with minimal infrastructure, finances, and manpower.

“The issue of education across geographical boundaries is critical in this era of globalization,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. “This solution offers a unique opportunity for educators to address the challenges of preparing students to participate in a global economy – regardless of where they live.  We are delighted that our partnership with The Economist has helped bring this solution forward.”

“The goal of the Ideas Economy series is to bring people together to discuss and debate some of the most important issues of our time,” said Justin Hendrix, Executive Director of Brand Communications, Events & Media Development for The Economist.  “Global education and how it will be tackled over the next century is certainly one of those issues.  Through this Challenge and our partnership with InnoCentive, we’ve been able to attract a large number of innovation solvers who have provided some truly intriguing ideas about the future of education worldwide.”

The winner was chosen by The Economist-InnoCentive Challenge advisory board which included Tom Standage, Digital Editor for The Economist; Rosemarie Ward, New York Correspondent for The Economist; Michael Horn, Co-founder and Executive Director of Education of the Innosight Institute; and Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.

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