The recipient of the 2019 Global Learning XPRIZE funded by Elon Musk for child literacy was in WOU recently to share her experience and passion in developing educational apps for young children to learn independently.
Lee Soo-Inn is the CEO and co-founder of Enuma, an educational technology company devoted to designing accessible games and applications to empower all children to learn independently. She was speaking at a public talk on “Reimagining Tomorrow: The Digital Transformation of Education” at the WOU main campus today.
Lee, having given birth to a son with learning difficulties in 2008, began to develop educational software for children with learning disabilities. She previously worked as an online gaming app designer in South Korea after graduation before moving to US. She founded Enuma with her husband in 2012, and its headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Seoul and Beijing. Their first product, TodoMath, designed to teach numeracy skills won awards and gained acclaim worldwide.
Enuma’s entry for the Global Learning XPRIZE competition was the Kitkit School education app, which enables children to learn independently and proves to be extremely helpful for children in the remote villages of developing countries with scarce resources. Lee used gamification in the app to better engage and motivate children to learn. “What we learnt from the gaming industry, we apply that same standard of high quality to our app,” she said.
The Kitkit app has a library of books for kids to visit and read, as well as colouring tools to encourage creativity and self-expression. She revealed that after 15 months of field testing the app in Tanzania, they showed that “a child can learn basic reading, writing and math with a tablet software on their own”.
She shared her dream of ‘full inclusion’ whereby she is determined to bring this early childhood education app to all corners of the world, especially for the benefit of children from the poor and unreached communities. She quoted a UNESCO report that stated “250 million children cannot read or write” and “681 million children and adolescents in world fail to learn minimum literacy and math skills”.
During question & answer session, Lee replied that the learning app is intended for android devices and designed to work without Internet connectivity.
As for the challenges faced, she highlighted the high investment cost, with millions spent to develop an app that works. Her focus now is on building partnerships to localise and customise the software to deliver education to various countries.
She pointed out that she currently has her own team of 65, and they work with 100 contractors all over the world comprising local teachers, illustrators, instructors and translators that are needed to build good programmes for the different language learners.
Over 120 people attended the talk jointly organised by WOU, The HEAD Foundation and the Asian Women’s Leadership Project Malaysia Bhd. State Executive Councillor for Women & Family Development, Gender Inclusiveness & Non-Islamic Religious Affairs, YB Chong Eng, and WOU Board of Governors Chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon graced the event.
Also present were WOU Chief Executive & Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Lily Chan, The Head Foundation’s Director of Development CD Liang, and representatives from various educational institutions. The talk was moderated by Dato’ Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Steering Committee member of Asian Women’s Leadership University (AWLU) Project.