If there is one thing that fascinates me about innovation, it is the fact that as a world we are assured that technology will never move backwards, only forward. Lots of new ideas are coming up every day and programmers are grabbing them and making them available to us in usable platforms. I also like the fact that there is a lot of support towards tech innovations from tech giants like Microsoft, through different programs.
Take the African Development Center for example. A Microsoft initiative based at Microsoft’s offices in Westlands. The aim of the ADC is to empower beneficiaries who are not only young, enthusiastic and full of energy, but who also understand the unique challenges facing the continent and are therefore better placed to develop solutions. A generation of tech enthusiasts who have the zeal to take the country’s technology landscape to the next level by developing impactful solutions in different sectors. It follows that some of Microsoft’s major partnerships are with local universities.
It is through the ADC that we have Game of Learners, a 5-week virtual hackathon with weekly sprints, at the end of which all participating teams submit their final projects in 3-minute pitch videos for judging. This is a fun challenge where participants can work on innovations that they love, and still have fun while at it. With heavy backing from Microsoft, the participants are well motivated.
Besides having the winning team featured on the GOL site along with announcements on social media, each standing member of the winning team will be awarded with a smartphone, one year Azure credits, one year LinkedIn Learning voucher, Azure Developer exam voucher, digital certificate, digital badge, a swag bag, and one-on-one mentorship from preferred professionals for winning.
Game of Learners has just concluded the second season and we have a winner! An innovation featuring a unique digital platform with capabilities to link students and teachers across Africa has been voted winner in the just concluded Season 2 of Game of Learners (GOL) competition.
The solution dubbed Bloom-Learn, is a creation by a team of five students drawn from different universities in Kenya and Nigeria and emerged best of the 12 teams comprising 60 participants. The GOL is organised as a virtual hackathon and aims to enhance digital and coding skills amongst university students in Kenya and now extending to Nigeria for Season 2, whilst also helping them to develop impactful digital solutions to address some of the continent’s pressing challenges. This year, the task was to develop possible digital solutions that can aid Africa to overcome serious bottlenecks facing education in the region.
For instance, the Bloom-Learn platform is designed to allow teachers to upload classes, create one-on-one sessions with students, and communicate with students on each course via a chat forum. The innovation is informed by a desire to address education challenges such as lack of qualified teachers, facilities, and infrastructure especially in public schools due to inadequate funding.
Other members of the winning team were Joy Kathure (Dedan Kimathi University, Kenya), Festus Idowu (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), Fortune Adekogbe (University of Lagos, Nigeria) and Afandi Indiatsi (Strathmore University, Kenya).