What happens when a pair of major organizations team up to disrupt education technology? We’ll find out pretty soon. That’s because Facebook and the Gates Foundation have launched a Facebook app contest that has 30 prizes worth a total of about $2.5 million. It’s called the College Knowledge Challenge and they’re now accepting submissions.
Later today, there will also be an EdTech Hackathon at Facebook’s headquarters. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this exciting event.
The goals of the hackathon and the College Knowledge Challenge? To help students make it to college, establish relationships for current college students, and help with admission and financial aid. Every single one of these verticals is ripe for hacking / disruption so it’ll be very interesting to see how the various EdTech hackers approach these opportunities.
Stacey Childress, Deputy Director of Education for the Gates Foundation, introduced the event saying: ”At the Gates foundation we’re increasingly focused on personalized learning. We mean meeting every student where they are every day so they get what they need next to be successful. Tech isn’t a solution to that but it’s part of it.”
The apps being developed are for Facebook, just FYI. When asked why the apps were limited to just the Facebook system, Childress explained that “social networking sites…are emerging as critical to students, and low-income students especially to build social capital outside the boundaries of their neighborhoods. Facebook…contributes not only to academic success but their persistence. They feel more connected and are more likely to stay in school.”
After today’s hackathon, about $18,000 in prizes will be awarded. But more importantly, you can rest assured that at least a few of the apps developed will get the attention of some VCs and Facebook folks who want to push them into full-on production. It’s an exciting time with high stakes and lofty goals. Gotta love it.
Applications for the College Knowledge Challenge are being accepted through November 16th. Click here to apply.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted on what apps make it (and which don’t) right here on Edudemic. Stay tuned!
About The College Knowledge Challenge
The College Knowledge Challenge is a competitive grant initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to award $2.5 million for Facebook applications that make the college-going process more transparent, collaborative, and easy to navigate for low-income and first generation students. By linking with Facebook, the Challenge seeks to drive creative apps that utilize the unique capabilities of and student interest in the world’s largest social network.
The Challenge is open to for-profit and non-profit organizations from any field of expertise. Successful applicants will be granted $50,000 – $100,000 depending on the size and scope of their project. Once a project is admitted to the program and begins development, applicants will receive 40% of the funds; subsequent funding will be dependent upon adequate progress toward the product described in the proposal. The College Knowledge Challenge will not take equity, ownership of intellectual property rights, or require revenue share from the funded projects.
Request For Proposals
We are seeking solutions that show strong potential for being addressed by personalized, web-based technology solutions that support the goal of all students graduating from high school ready for college or career, and being prepared to complete a postsecondary degree or certificate with value in the workplace. A primary objective of the Challenge is to move college support tools from simple websites that focus on information aggregation and basic FAQs to adaptive tools that provide students with personalized, actionable strategies for navigating the path through college.
Effective solutions should also capitalize on U.S. young adults’ intense use of social networking sites (SNS) and exploit the fact that information shared through Facebook is disseminated faster and wider than research shared offline. Research shows that the majority of teens have experienced positive outcomes from SNS use, making Facebook particularly well suited to helping low-income teens find, use, and share the innovative, personalized apps funded through this challenge.
Developers should respond with technology solutions that support high school students and / or students currently enrolled in college (especially community college). Acceptable solutions will address one or more of the three areas proven to be roadblocks to success for students at both types of institutions.
Successful apps will address one or more of the top three roadblocks by:
Helping students build, test, and implement personal academic pathways that grow out of college-career aspirations and are supported by informed decision making.
- Helping students build social capital and a college-going peer group.
- Rectifying information asymmetries in college admissions, financial aid, and college selection processes that disadvantage low-income and first generation students.
Judging criteria. The applications in submitted proposals must:
- Represent an innovative approach that is responsive to one or more of the top 3 roadblocks facing low-income students in getting to and through college.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the college-going process and the needs, habits, and practices of low-income and first-generations students.
- Deliver an intuitive, user-friendly interface that provides information AND coaches the student toward college-oriented actions associated with positive educational outcomes.
- Take full advantage of the potential for social engagement where appropriate.
- Produce applications that are broadly accessible to low-income and first-generation college students through the applications’ content, approach, pricing, and distribution models.
- Present an idea and a plan for development that can be realistically implemented and delivered in a high-quality fashion within the allowable time-frame.
Winners will be required to provide data and reporting on app development progress toward plan milestones and app usage.