News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Announcement: Michael Lindsay from the X Prize Foundation


Michael Lindsay from the X Prize Foundation announced the possible development of an upcoming series of education X Prizes. After a video about past and current X Prizes, Lindsay provided new details about their latest incentive competitions.

Education is a challenge, especially in the United States. The public perceives the school system as broken. The system is antiquated and tailored toward groups of children rather than an individual student.

X Prize will focus on educational software improvements in upcoming education prizes. Competitors will creates adaptive educational software with near real-time student assessment and diagnostic capabilities with interactive game-like interfaces. The subjects to be covered first are Algebra 1, Basic Literacy, and Second Language Acquisition.

A learning achievement goals of two sigma (average student achievement greater than 98% of classroom students) was suggested.

Can software improve learning? A recent study suggests current software solutions do not, but the X Prize Foundation would like to show that breakthrough software could do so in the near future. Some possibilities include networked gaming settings, intelligent software, peer-to-peer, and teacher-assisted.

While no specific prizes and amounts were announced, Lindsay asked for audience comments regarding development of future prizes. The responses were, perhaps expectedly, opinionated and passionate. When asked by Lindsay if the problem of education might be solved within ten years, a minority of audience members raised their hands.

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