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XPRIZE Communities Competition Begins April 1

image of a person holding a tablet that displays the XPRIZE apps

by Hillary Major

The “deployment phase” of the XPRIZE Communities Competition launched on April 1. For the next five months, adult learners will be able to download for free four field-tested, prize-winning mobile learning apps. As part of Team World Ed, Virginia educators have access to a variety of resources to support our participation in the competition. Most of these are collected on World Ed’s XPRIZE website.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center will also be hosting an XPRIZE cham-pion group that will meet virtually (via conference calls and discussion board) through the deployment phase (April 1–August 30) to share ideas and support everyone’s efforts. If you’re an XPRIZE champion in your program, please email OAEL@doe.virginia.gov with “XPRIZE” in the subject line to be part of the group and stay in the know. “In Virginia, we want to use this challenge to learn more about mobile learning with our students, and to see how our students can help us reach out to adults in their communities as learning ambassadors,” says VDOE Adult Education Coordinator Heidi Silver-Pacuilla.

Here are some excerpts from Team World Ed’s valuable FAQ list, which can be found on their XPRIZE site along with outreach flyers, technical specifications, webinar information, and more:

What is the Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition?

The Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition is a national challenge to expand access to education for adult learners through the use of technology. It is designed to “tackle the problem of adult low-literacy by putting free learning tools in the hands of those who need them the most, so learning can happen anytime, anywhere.” Competitors will compete to win a share of $1M in cash prizes by distributing free, proven-effective mobile learning apps that adults—both native speakers of English and English language learners—can use anytime, anywhere to improve their literacy skills.

There are four apps that are eligible to be used free of charge in this competition. They are designed for native English-speaking and English language learner younger and older adults at beginning–intermediate levels.

What are these apps and where can I get them? You can access them at these sites, but only on Android phones:

App Location
Learning Upgrade https://abc.xprize.org/lu336
Amrita Learning https://abc.xprize.org/ac3366
Cell-Ed https://abc.xprize.org/ce3366

Lost Words of Atlantis


The two letters before the Team WorldEd code in the URLs identify the app (LU = Learning Upgrade; AC = Amrita Learning; CE = Cell-Ed; PW = Codex). You can also access the apps at Google Play Store; search for them, and enter the Team WorldEd code, 3366, when logging in. The XPRIZE competition apps work only on phones and tablets running Android OS.

What about iPhone users?

iPhone and iPad users can download Learning Upgrade and Cell-Ed for free from the App Store. We encourage this (although App Store downloads do not contribute to the competition user count). iPhone users of Learning Upgrade will get the same content as on an Android, which is all of their lessons, including English, math, and GED/HiSET. Only Android users will have access after the competition for an extra year after August 31, 2019.

What is the timeline?

The Adult Literacy XPRIZE Communities Competition runs April – August 2019. The three winning teams will be announced in September. Everyone who downloads the app(s) on Android phones can use them free of charge through August 2020.

What’s the easiest way to help adults access the apps?

Based on our experience, we recommend:

  • First, you should review the four apps your-self and decide which one(s) you will use and promote. Each app is quite different and uses different amounts of data.
  • Give students one app at first unless they are used to downloading and using apps and really want more than one. They can always get more apps once they get the hang of it.
  • Text the URL to students to help them access the app. Don’t expect people to be able to find Google Chrome and type in the URL. Some will be able to do that, but many others will not. (and/or) Help adults download the app from the Google Play Store.

  • Allow time in class to use the app and get peer or teacher support, if needed. Check in with learners about their experience. Ask: Where and when are you using the app? What are you learning?

  • Point out the app logo so learners can find it on their phone.

  • Download wallet reminder cards from our website (coming soon) and hand them out to students to remind them of the app logo and how to download it from the Play Store if they become logged out or use a different phone.

Meet the Apps Webinars

Educators may also want to learn more about the apps by signing up for April 12’s Meet the Apps & Get Tips for Using Them webinar (2 p.m. ET). This is Part 2 in a series and will focus on the Learning Upgrade and Amrita Learning apps.

Part 1, which is archived online, focused on the Cell-Ed and Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis apps. Codex developer Dr. Tony Cuevas shared screen shots from the app, which incorporates gamification and a compelling storyline to increase motivation along with instructional design that focuses on multiple practice opportunities within a solid adult literacy curriculum. In a three-week pilot study, participants who played the first level of Codex for twenty minutes twice a week improved in a range of literacy skills, including letter-sound identification and whole word reading fluency. One learner commented, “I like the game. It is interesting and teaches me how to use a device as well as to read. I don’t back off certain things now like I did when I started. It makes the sounds easy for me to hear and to understand.”

Dr. Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami, CEO and founder of Cell-Ed, shared how Cell-Ed was designed to minimize the impact of the digital divide by using texting to help create “a classroom in the palm of your hand” that features micro-lessons along with interactive live and automated coaching. World Ed’s Kathleen O’Connell shared her experience implementing Cell-Ed with a multilevel group of language learners, many of them hotel workers. All students had phones and some experience using apps like Quizlet. She found it easy to introduce the Cell-Ed app; she planned ahead to have extra phone chargers and headsets available, and students had little difficulty in navigating the app. In her classes, learners were given 20-30 minutes of class time per week to use the app and outside practice was encouraged; she found about 95% studied on Cell-Ed regularly. Notable outcomes included two students who spent more than 60 hours on Cell-Ed and made big gains on their TABE reading scores and a student who came in with only one year of informal education, testing at Cell-Ed’s “pre- ESL” level, who went on to complete Level 1 and “now sees himself as a reader.” Kathleen spoke of the benefit of cohort support among learners, who had time in class “to talk about what they were learning as a group [and] inspire people.” Watch the full Part 1 webinar or sign up for April’s Part 2 session on the World Ed XPRIZE website, and make plans to support mobile literacy learning in your community!

Hillary Major is Instructional Standards and Communications Specialist at the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center.

Team World Ed Download Code 3366