Originally conceived in 2018 as a digital educational platform to help displaced and refugee children, Learning Passport was expanded and adapted in April to meet pandemic-fueled demands of students in underprivileged areas. Led by UNICEF along with support from Microsoft, the University of Cambridge and Dubai Cares, a team deployed digitized in-language curriculums curated to meet the specific needs of local students and educators.
3rd Most Influential Project of 2020
Crayons, books, laptops. For 20 years, DonorsChoose has deployed a breakthrough crowdfunding platform to help U.S. public school teachers request the supplies they need most in their classrooms. Contributors then hand-pick the classroom project they want to fund. But in March, when public schools across the United States began closing in response to COVID-19, conventional classrooms shut down. The needs of teachers—and their students—became more acute, in entirely new ways.
32nd Most Influential Project of 2020
Developed by a Nigerian education startup, the app was launched in March—less than six months after the company raised US$3.1 million in seed funding. Users in five African nations began using the app to take exams and track their learning progress. An offline component allows uLesson’s full content library to be sent to registered users on memory cards—no internet connection required.
As Finland relinquished its presidency of the European Union (EU) at the end of 2019, the country’s leaders announced a parting gift: Finland would translate its online course “Elements of AI” into all of the EU’s 24 languages by 2021. Designed by the University of Helsinki and tech consultancy Reaktor in 2018, the free, six-week course has already been taken by more than 220,000 students from 110 countries.
To make sure graduation day for the U.S. class of 2020 wasn’t a complete casualty of COVID-19, Facebook and Instagram organized a virtual event streamed live on both platforms in May. Along with a virtual graduation hub, there were custom filters, stickers and a slew of VIP appearances from singer Cardi B to activist Malala Yousafzai.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson and nonprofit Life Kitchen opened the U.K.’s first cooking school for people living with cancer in June 2019. The school offers free cooking classes and food therapy for people who may have lost their sense of taste or suffered changing appetites as a side effect of chemotherapy.
In the wake of COVID-19 school closures, the Nigerian state of Anambra took class to the airwaves. Sponsored by the Anambra State Ministry of Basic Education and Anambra Broadcasting Service, Teaching On Air served up three hours of live lessons broadcast over radio and streamed on Facebook each weekday for the remainder of the school year. Project leaders also developed teacher coaching, a feedback loop for students and a podcast for archived lessons.
The first Green School, in Indonesia, proved that kids can take the reins of a sustainable education—working in the garden and kitchen, and leading renewable energy projects to reduce the school’s environmental impact. The Green School New Zealand, which opened its doors in January, is helping to prove the model of nature-connected, project-led learning can work anywhere. Plans for future schools have been announced in Mexico and South Africa.
South African construction firm Concor is championing skills development as the most critical driver of transformation—and it wants to start training a next-gen talent pipeline as early as primary school, with scholarships for students interested in the built environment and robust apprenticeship programs. A Future Leaders initiative also provides younger employees with mentorship, leadership development and a chance to participate in think tanks aimed at generating innovative approaches to shifting business winds. Nineteen employees were tapped for the nascent program’s current class.
Yes, even PMI has had to pivot its educational offerings. Like much of the world, most project managers were under stay-at-home orders during the Great Lockdown. So the Project Management Institute joined forces with computer-based testing company Pearson VUE to begin offering an online option for taking the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification exam. A rigorous data forensics program helps identify and act on misconduct and other validity issues, and a virtual self-check-in process uses AI-enhanced identification and face-to-photo matching technology to safeguard authentication.