The New Education X-Prize

A short description and discussion with Keith Kegley, Vice President, Alliances, X PRIZE Foundation; interviewed by Melissa Milburn, Director of Media Relations, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Keith Kegley:
There is a slate of future prizes that X-Prize is working on and education is one of these. Began as Peter Diamandis’ frustration with not getting to space. The whole purpose of the prize is to devleop better learners. Trying to get ahead of cutting edge technology. coming up with an objective, measurable achievement point is difficult, but there are measurable physiological differences between “good learners and bad learners”
Phase 1: Develop low cost high fidelity, measurement device that can be deployed in lab or classroom. $1 million prize
Phase 2: Develop supplementary training and techniques to move students forward the most.
Today, they’re measured through MRIs, petscans and neuropsychological test requiring a very trained scientist and 2-3 days of testing.

How will society benefit from this?
If we can get our level of knowledge and understanding down to the level of brain functionality, we can make great strides in innovating.

What will this look like?
Awareness in teachers and parents about the brains they’re taking care of. 10 years from now we could be doing it at the level of the brain itself.

Measuring people opens up a can of worms; measurements must work to upgrade intelllectual capacities rather than dividing and segregating based on brain function.

Who will take part?
Phase 1: Signal processing engineers, neuroscientists, cognitive engineers, as many as 300-500 teams. Low barrier to entry.
Phase 2: teachers, etc, will take more money and resources; probably 70 teams competing.

Q: How to broaden this concept to apply it as an R and D model for the federal government.
A: JUSt opened Xprize labs at UW Evans School: bringing in students to teach them about designing competitions to draw in innovators and engineers to solve problems.

Q: How can the x-prize model capture the designs of the winners AND the losers so they don’t wind up feeling burned.
A: Looking at what would be a real business model that would carry the day. Creating real, business plans that could be put into play, so that they could actually be used and brought to market, even after loss.