Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Game on: Africa’s education techies compete in hackathon for social good

Press Release

A first of its kind hackathon will bring together edtech (education technology) entrepreneurs from throughout Africa to explore and develop new paths and methods for sustainable change in social systems.

Taking place from May 17 – 20, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the aim of the game is in the title: over four intensive days of competitive creation, participants of the Gamify it! Hackathon! will set out to prove whether it’s possible to achieve a measurable impact towards sustainable development through fun and engagement.

“It’s the first time we’ve been able to bring 35 people from all throughout Africa together to work on social causes in this way using technology,” says Markos Lemma, the co-founder of iceaddis, the community oriented innovation hub in Addis Ababa. Iceaddis is part of the team of organisers, led by GIZ and including eLearning Africa.

“I think it’s important to have a hackathon on social change because hackathons are a great way to collect ideas in a very informal way. It encourages people to get creative and come up with innovative solutions.”

Under the theme ‘Gamification for Social Good’, teams of programmers, designers, problem solvers and subject matter experts are required to identify key challenges and problems from a variety of areas – with a particular focus on the African context – such as gamification and green technologies; gamification in education and (vocational) training; or gamification for emergency and disaster management.

What’s gamification and why is it effective? Gamification is the use of games or game-like elements to engage and motivate people to solve problems. GIZ, who are organising the event on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, say gamification and serious games are “particularly powerful ways to address individuals’ competences and change behaviour for the better.”

Starting at iceaddis, the hackathon will finish up at the eLearning Africa conference on May 20, where teams will present their newly-developed gamified tools – whether it’s an app, online platform or immersive environment – to an international audience. The conference is being co-organised by the African Union and hosted by the Government of Ethiopia, and is expected to attract over 1,200 participants.

The winner will be invited to visit Berlin, Germany, for the 21st edition of OEB in December 2015 – the global, cross-sector conference on technology supported learning and training.

Lemma says as many of Africa’s tech entrepreneurs are involved in developing technology-supported educational materials this is a great opportunity for them to not only show the rest of the continent how the private sector can be involved in education but, through participating in OEB, gives them a chance to display the different eLearning innovations coming out of Africa.

Participation is exclusively for citizens of African countries, with teams coming from throughout the continent – Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Togo and Zimbabwe.

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