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Project Earnie - Artificial Intelligence unlocking community-driven content creation. Enabling personalised, impactful learning outcomes.

Leveraging scalable cloud technology and innovation to enable children to continue their learning in the face of emergencies

Photo of Luke Ma

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What problem does your innovation solve?

Mother Tongue Content - Children in emergency settings are often faced with a lack of vernacular educational material. This ultimately impacts dropout rates, literacy and numeracy levels. (Ensuring quality education for young refugees from Syria, 2014, Oxford University). Personalisation - Strain on teachers means that resources are often not matched to student ability. Documentation and tracking is difficult across borders. Children often move countries more than once. (UNHCR, World Bank, 2015)

Explain your innovation.

Project Earnie is a cloud based software solution that enables the creation and delivery of culturally relevant, interactive, multi-lingual content. Our software is further enhanced by the inclusion of an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) engine, developed on the IBM Watson platform. A.I. allows for rapid assessment, learning analytics and automated curriculum generation. - Our easy to use content creation tool uses a drag and drop interface. - Built upon Amazon Web Services infrastructure. - Online and offline modes. - IBM Watson engine ensures users are continuously delivered content in mother tongue, that is culturally, age, gender relevant; levelled to their literacy and numeracy levels. - Real-time content delivery (when in connected environment). Our real-time delivery engine is robust enough that the Transport Accident Commission, Victoria (TAC) are currently using our platform for freeway digital signage. Our included videos demonstrate a scenario where our content creation tool is being effectively used to support the Ara Irititja Project in a remote central Australian indigenous community. The project was established inter-generational transfer of Aboriginal cultural information, traditional ecological knowledge, family, community history and language. As we continue to enhance our product, we aim to deploy globally, working alongside education, aid, foundation and government partners - for the benefit of children in emergency settings.

Who benefits?

Our innovation benefits children by enabling them to continue their learning in the face of emergencies, equipping them to thrive in the future. This in turn has positive knock on effects for communities experiencing and/or recovering from emergencies. Teachers and education providers benefit by being empowered to deliver tailored and measurable syllabuses to students. Giving teachers advanced tools to do their job better reduces burn-out and increases their interaction with their students. Please refer to our personas for further details. Due to our innovations ability to scale, it can also be adapted to aid beneficiaries in other sectors, such as aged care, healthcare, disability and remote learning, to deliver deliver highly relevant, personalised content. Finally, the business model supporting Project Earnie is an innovation in itself. Showing the technology community how tech can 'do good, while being good for business' will challenge others to follow suit.

How is your innovation unique?

A New Business Model As we approached 2016, the global aid appeal required US$20.1 billion to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to over 87.6 million people across 37 countries, most of which are in conflict (“Global Humanitarian Overview, 2016”). Pressure is building to alter the way we respond to crisis. Our innovation model demonstrates how cutting edge private sector technology, in co-operation with aid, government and education, can offer innovation to not only support children in emergencies, but also address wider humanitarian challenges. Core technology can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure via API’s. Rapid deployment capability and low maintenance costs means reduced technological strain (personnel, cost of ownership, ongoing support). Having access to global, real-time data and predictive learning patterns, means greater confidence and accuracy in decision making, especially around policy, financial investment, and continued innovation opportunities

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

Data Privacy -Both the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UNHCR have published policy papers on data privacy related to refugee communities and peoples of concern. We do understand the risk involved if personal information were illegally distributed. It is imperative that extreme vigilance is observed before region deployment. Content Creation and Moderation - Child protection and risk mitigation are a priority. Unlike social sites, our cloud based software has tiered access and strict approval protocols. When identifying a region or an aid partnership, we must adhere to strict ethical guidelines. We would look to partner with a specialist education institution in order to develop and administer an ethics guideline.

Tell us more about you.

We are a team of cross discipline design practitioners. The experience of our core team ranges from entrepreneurship, innovation strategy, product design, sustainability, urban planning, publishing, full stack development and visual design. We are passionate about utilising human centered design to tackle complex social challenges, delivering solutions across aged care, e-waste, disability, healthcare and human rights. We are based in Sydney, Australia plans to establish a presence in Europe

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement
  • Extreme drought

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

As our solution works independently of network coverage and grid, as well as in places where teachers are hard to come by, it makes customised education accessible to people in a variety of situations, from overcrowded classrooms to crisis settings. This would make our solution applicable both for people currently on the move as well those in a specific location, be it refugee camp, make-shift shelter after a natural disaster, or within a war zone where schooling is no longer available.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

We have currently identified 3 delivery zones based on country networks; Jordan – Learning center for Syrian refugees one rural (70-100 students), one urban (500) students. Uganda – Working with an aid partner who have set up a library to deliver digital interactive content. Myanmar – Rohingya Crisis – Working with an international aid partner who has established education facilities on the Thai / Myanmar border region.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

Some of our early stage advisors include - The International Centre for Social Franchising - Andrew Tyndale, Social Impact Investment Advisor - Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship - McMillian Education - Foundation for Young Australians - Save the Children Australia - The University of Western Sydney - The University of Technology Sydney - Save the Children Uganda - The World Literacy Foundation - Private sector childcare group (36 centres across Sydney & Melbourne)

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

Our core team have on average, 10 years, individual sector experience in the area of entrepreneurship, innovation, sustainability, communications, urban planning, humanitarian aid, publishing and technology. We are a diverse group of individuals who have delivered innovation and support services for organisations such as Cisco, Qantas, Patagonia and UNICEF; as well as on-location humanitarian program experience in Jordan, Lebanon, Nepal, Malawi and Cambodia.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • Other

Organization Location

Our key product teams are currently based in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia. We plan to establish a European office for access to the Middle East.


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Discussions with in-region aid partners have highlighted the need for cloud software that enhances the education capability of field teams. Feedback around scale have also highlighted the risks in hiring field team expertise in-house. We have recently formed a partnership with the World Literacy Foundation and Save the Children to create and deliver mother-tongue content for children in Uganda. This reinforces the feasibility of our alliance scale model, outlined in the attached documentation.

Who will implement this Idea?

Project Earnie currently have dedicated product teams based in Sydney, Melbourne and Europe who would support the training, delivery, maintenance and improvement of the platform on a full-time basis. We are currently in discussions with international aid partners and education service providers to provide in-region classroom access, learning outcome and content curation capabilities. Our teams are prepared to scale depending on partnership requirements and focus region. Further details can be found in our additional partnership strategy, scale and distribution methods documentation.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Based on discussions with a Jordanian school, we have included an updated persona and user map. Curriculum - The teachers understand the importance to abide by their host country’s (Jordan’s) curriculum. This brings challenges as the students start on a Syrian curriculum, it also is problematic when they migrate. Work and School - Besides or instead of school, children and teenagers work petty jobs to help with the family finances. Education has to be especially relevant and interesting for these students. Accreditation and Employability - Related to above, there is a great need for the students to see the real benefit of their education. Cross border certification and an understanding of how their studies increase their employability or allow them to go to university is important.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

The following pathways highlight our primary sustainability models. Multiple partners with common or complementary interests work together to drive scale-up. Feasible due to the innovation addressing a well recognised global humanitarian priority that galvanises the attention of a group of donors, governments and other partners Licensing rights to parties to drive commercialisation and generate a financial return. Feasible due to compelling commercial value, such as the potential size of the global audience, partners’ willingness and ability to pay for the product.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

By 2021, we have made available a personalised, continuous learning tool kit for the 235,000 Syrian school age children in Jordan, with plans to reach 1.7 million Syrian children in neighbouring regions and 2.1 million in Syria. How do we transition from a business model of emergency funding, to one of long term sustainability that allows for the mass deployment, continuation, quality programming and sound monitoring of education for refugees and children in global emergencies?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Speed – The time in which we can respond to, configure and deploy our software in emergency settings Accuracy – The continued improvement of our technology to assess, personalise and deliver the right content to students based on their profile Quality - Expanded library of curated mother tongue content Accessibility – Improving global coverage and continued access for students on the move Profitability – The automation, replication and scale of business operations

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Yr 1 - Establish key alliance partnerships with a specific region focus in Jordan - Establish funding model and execute infrastructure assessment for deployment Yr 2 - Expand in region networks, improve coverage to include more audience and persona types - Improve product capability, continuous roll out of new innovations based on field experience Yr 3 - Automate and replicate core business systems in preparation for expansion - Move towards license out and sustainable funding model

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 10-20 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are seeking registration in order to implement in additional countries.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
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Attachments (2)

Project Earnie - Scale and Distribution Models - Supporting Document.pdf

Supporting documentation containing information around scale and distribution.

Education In Emergencies - Idea Submission - Project Earnie - Supporting Document.pdf

Supporting documentation containing all images and slides included with this submission.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Rebecca Petras

Your initiative is a very interesting one and is crucial for providing quality education for numbers of children especially minority groups who are not receiving education in their native languages.

I am the Deputy Director in Translators without Borders (TWB); a U.S. non-profit organization that aims to close the language gaps that hinder critical humanitarian efforts worldwide. We recognize that the effectiveness of any aid program depends on delivering information in the language of the affected population. By maintaining a global network of professional translators, we help non-profit organizations overcome communication barriers, increasing access to critical information and services while fostering a climate of understanding, respect and dignity in times of great need. We invite you to learn more about our work through this link. Translators without Borders is a non-profit organization supported entirely through our volunteers, grant funders and generous donors and sponsors.

TWB’s current translation capabilities exceed more than 190 language pairs with over 20000 translators. So far we have translated over 45 million words as part of humanitarian crisis response, and health and education services. We have also provided basic translator training to over 250 trainees in our translator training centre.

Since 2010, Translators without Borders (TWB) has played a crucial role within the humanitarian and development sectors leading on localization and translation of complex and lifesaving information into more than 190 languages, especially for populations in crisis. TWB has contributed to building the capacity of local translators in different parts of the world including in Kenya, Guinea and Greece.

Translators without Borders is expanding its program to support Mother Tongue Education programs. We want to work in collaboration with education providers to overcome the language barriers to mother-tongue education. TWB has the expertise and to:

Translate and adapte educational materials in local language, including training translators in local languages
Support Ministries and education providers to develop materials to support teachers in teaching in mother-tongue languages

We believe that our expertise around language and localization when coupled with your expertise and efforts in Education will expand the outreach to marginalized populations unable to benefit from quality education opportunities. It would be our pleasure to connect with you and learn more from you on your ongoing projects and discuss possible ways of cooperation together.

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