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    Date submitted
  • 04-Dec-2018

Eko

Abstract

Eko is an app that works as a teaching assistant to primary and secondary school teachers with a focus on merging traditional curricula with workforce readiness training.

Eko uses specially designed games to teach students job readiness skills such as entrepreneurial skills, critical thinking, communication skills, conflict resolution, creative thinking, team work skills, typing efficiency, technological literacy, and basic math and literacy. These will be relative to the cultural norms of the students' environments. Through these games, we can collect and analyze data on the different demographics in Africa that will be using the app.

Video

Original Vimeo URL: Open

Introduction Video

Additional Questions

Who is your customer?

We have two user groups: Students in African countries, and the teachers of these students. Our customers can be partitioned into three main sections: International organizations, inter-governmental organizations, and private sector companies, all of whom are interested in the job-readiness skills and educational advancements of African children. Through the Eko app, we will gather data on education and job-readiness skills in African countries. According to the UNICEF 2030 report, “It is difficult to find accurate, reliable data for both primary and secondary education quality [in Africa].” NGOs, inter-governmental organizations, governments themselves, and any other organizations that can benefit from this data will be able to purchase it from ZODAJ. With the exception of African governments, we will also be selling advertising space to these groups. From interviews we have conducted, many international organizations and NGOs have shown interest in using our app to advertise for awareness campaigns about clean water, vaccinations, and disease prevention, etc. According to the World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO), there are nearly 5,000 NGOs in Africa, and many of these organizations involve access to education as part of their mission. This number is increasing every day. In addition to this, the social entrepreneurship sector is growing rapidly, especially in African countries, and with it, a primary focus of these businesses is education. Keeping all this information in mind, we are looking at a customer base of about 10,000 organizations.

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

According to recent UNICEF population growth data, it is predicted that in the next 12 years, the continent of Africa will experience a population increase, launching them into stage 2 of their demographic curve. African primary and secondary school infrastructure and staffing remains stagnant in its development compared to the rate at which the population is increasing. According to UNICEF, “to improve the pupil/teacher ratio to equalize it to the best-performing country in each of the five sub-regions [by 2030], then the number of teachers would need to increase by 5.8 million, more than doubling the original number.” There is an increasing need for data on literacy and workforce readiness in African youth. With a growing demographic and increasing unemployment rates, workforce readiness is critical for the development of these countries. In addition to this, a lack of infrastructure keeps the education gap between Africa and the developed world relatively wide. We believe that the introduction of our app will provide Africa with the boost it needs to close this gap. As it stands right now, most African children, especially in the least developed rural areas, do not have access to appropriate educational resources. While our product is technologically centered, we acknowledge the importance of human interaction. We are designing our application to work in conjunction with teachers. This is particularly important for Africa because in many of these countries, the teacher-to-student ratio is unacceptable according to most studies done on optimizing the learning process for a learning environment. Additionally, there is an increasing need for data on literacy and workforce readiness in African youth. With a growing demographic and increasing unemployment rates, workforce readiness is critical for the development of these countries.

What attributes will make this idea/product successful? Why do you believe that those features will create success?

The app uses specially designed games to teach students skills in critical thinking, communication, conflict resolution, collaboration, creative thinking, and entrepreneurship. These games will be tailored to fit the context of the spatial environments of African countries, also known as non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). For example, games focused around business concepts such as calculating operating margin or optimization might be role-playing games (RPGs) set in an actual African marketplace.We are designing our games to accurately reflect the environments that these students live in to optimize engagement and real world applications. In a study comparing active learning,students recalled 90% of their intended knowledge through a simulation. A classroom teaching aid like Eko would also help address the problems with the student-to-teacher ratios. The teacher can track a student’s progress throughout the year as well as specific areas where an individual student or multiple students are struggling. Additionally, Eko will be collecting data on job readiness, basic literacy, and technological literacy skills, all of which are workforce readiness skills. Data on workforce readiness is critical for the development of these countries. ZODAJ recognizes the existence and persistence of power and connectivity issues and presents a solution. The Eko app will be preloaded onto multiple tablets that will all fit in one secure cart. This cart will act as a charging port and a power reserve for the tablets as well as a host for the wireless local area network. The cart’s power reserve will be sourced from electrical outlets and solar energy.

Explain how you (your team) will execute to make this idea/product successful? What gives you (your team) an advantage over others already in the market or new to this market?

Currently, we have identified two main competitors: Robotutor, an app that aims to teach African children ages 7-10 arithmetic, writing, and reading without help from an adult. Secondly, Kitkit school, an app that has a universal literacy and math curriculum for early education to elementary education for students around the world. Our competitors’ apps are designed to work without any adult assistance. However, Eko is designed to work as a teaching aid, alongside the teacher as opposed to replacing the teacher. Additionally, Eko’s main focus is job readiness while other apps completely forgo this concept. We are one of the only educational apps right now implementing these skills that have the potential to fortify the economies of many African countries in the decades to come. Eko is also unique in the age range we are focusing on. While most educational apps focus on younger children, for our minimum viable product, we want to focus on students who are in late middle school and early high school. While we do plan on expanding in the future, right now we are accessing a market with little direct competition. This gives us the opportunity to gain a significant portion of the market share. In addition to teaching job readiness skills, Eko has distinguishing features in two other places: the data we collect and sell, and the algorithms we use to take students’ data and improve their learning experience. In terms of data collection, the data collected by the app will be encrypted, preventing access by outside entities until it is packaged and ready to sell. We will have an ever-growing database with current information on African students, how and what they learn, and the effectiveness of workforce readiness training. This makes our data unlike any other in the marketplace. We will also integrate machine learning algorithms to ensure that Eko evolves to teach each student uniquely, to reinforce skills they need help with and evolve as they learn new skills.