Competition offers $10K for 21st-century education ideas

_The Economist_ and InnoCentive hope to solicit an idea that will bring education to children in developing countries.
The Economist and InnoCentive hope to solicit ideas that will bring education to children in developing countries.

How can technology be leveraged to deliver a world-class education affordably to students in developing countries? That’s the question a new competition asks, and the best idea will earn $10,000 for its creator.

Many school-age children in developing countries need access to educational opportunities, and the publication The Economist and InnoCentive Inc. have turned to “crowdsourcing” for help.

The two organizations recently partnered to create the 21st Century Cyber-Schools Challenge, calling on participants from any discipline or background to submit ideas.

Ideas should address global education best practices, free market solutions to education, the testing dilemma, and how online learning can transform schooling.

“Simple ideas tend not to win,” said Dwayne Spradlin, chief executive officer of InnoCentive. “What’s being graded is substance, not form. In these competitions, we look for real, original, novel ideas. It’s important to think through the solution and how it will be played out and implemented.”

Spradlin added that applicants should think broadly, yet be rigorous and detailed in the execution of their plan.

The winner not only will receive $10,000, but also will be invited to participate in The Economist’s Human Potential event in September in New York. Human Potential aims to bring together the smartest minds from government, academia, and business to discuss and debate how to boost productivity by harnessing the potential of individuals and societies.

“The person with the winning idea has the potential to get a global audience. They’ll have a place at the podium to present and take questions,” Spradlin said.

InnoCentive is a company that works to help corporate, government, and nonprofit organizations innovate through crowdsourcing, strategic consulting services, and internal software-as-a-service offerings.

“Diversity is key in solving problems educators and policy makers have never had to solve,” Spradlin said.

Formal submissions will be taken until June 23. Submissions will be evaluated by the Economist-InnoCentive Challenge Advisory board.


The Economist-InnoCentive Challenge on 21st Century Cyber Schools

Ideas Economy: Human Potential

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