Bloom-Learn Wins Season 2 of Game of Learners Competition by Microsoft ADC

Bethany Jepchumba, a student from JKUAT receiving the Award for the best innovation from Ruth Ferland of Microsoft Africa Development Center during the just-concluded Season 2 of Game of Learners competition sponsored by Microsoft’s ADC.

Today was the African Development Centre Open Day where there were an array of speakers talking on the theme of matching technology skills with market needs. Some of the speakers and panelists included Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Patrick Wamuyu -an Associate Professor at USIU Africa, Dr. Michael Kimwele and Dr. Kamau Gachigi – the founder of Gearbox.

“Understanding the current technologies driving our economies will make it easier to develop the skills needed to fill the gaps that exist .” – Dr. Bitange Ndemo

Microsoft ADC also announced the winner of Season 2 of Game of Learners Competition. The winning innovation dubbed Bloom-Learn is an innovation featuring a unique digital platform with capabilities to link students and teachers across Africa and was developed by a team of five students from different universities in Kenya and Nigeria.

Game of Learners Programme

This is the second season of Game of Learners, a 5-week virtual hackathon comprised of weekly sprints where, at the end of the 5th week, all participating teams submit their final projects for judging. Besides having the winning team featured on the GOL site along with announcements on social media, each standing member of the winning team will be awarded with a smartphone, one year Azure credits, one year LinkedIn Learning voucher, Azure Developer exam voucher, digital certificate, digital badge, a swag bag, and one-on-one mentorship from preferred professionals for winning.

Very notable innovations have come out of the Game Of Learners challenge. Last season’s challenge of demonstrating the application of technology in developing e-health systems to enable patients access normal medical services remotely saw RemD, a mobile-based medical application emerge the winners, among other notable projects

The second season saw Bloom-Learn emerge the best of the 12 teams comprising 60 participants. This year, the task was to develop possible digital solutions that can aid Africa to overcome serious bottlenecks facing education in the region.

What is Bloom-Learn?

This is a digital platform that allows the linking of teachers and students across Africa. The Bloom-Learn platform is designed to allow teachers to upload classes, create one-on-one sessions with students, and communicate with students on each course via a chat forum. The innovation is informed by a desire to address education challenges such as lack of qualified teachers, facilities, and infrastructure especially in public schools due to inadequate funding.

“The platform’s mission is to digitise education, ensuring that everyone has access to learning opportunities. Furthermore, the platform allows one to donate space and computers to students, allowing the less fortunate to benefit from digital learning,” said Bethany Jepchumba from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and the Bloom-Learn team leader.

Other members of the winning team were Joy Kathure (Dedan Kimathi University, Kenya), Festus Idowu (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), Fortune Adekogbe (University of Lagos, Nigeria) and Afandi Indiatsi (Strathmore University, Kenya).

GOL Providing the Necessary Mentorship that Students Need

What has continually stood out from this programme is the need for mentors to offer support in different forms to students.

The students were coached and mentored by a team of 40 volunteers from Microsoft who took them throughout the five-week engagement and judged each team’s final project submission.

“Mentorship plays a critical role in a student’s life and those who have access to them throughout their study often end up with an advantage over those who don’t. Mentors not only offer support, encouragement, wisdom and teaching, but they also provide knowledge from their experience which students can learn from and apply in their studies and professional life afterwards,” Ngare explained. “We are proud about the role we are playing as the ADC in preparing the next generation of coders and programmers for the African continent through initiatives such as the GOL.” – Joshua Ndemenge, a student of Dedan Kimathi University and team leader of Team RemDe, the winners of Season 1 of the Game of Learners Competition

So far, Microsoft has invested 100 million dollars in building engineering centres in Nairobi and Lagos. This goes to show how much Microsoft believes in Africa’s potential to be the next frontier when it comes to skilled labour.

If you missed out on this conversation, be sure to follow #ADCGameOfLearners and #ADCOpenDay for insights on how Microsoft is changing the landscape when it comes to equipping students with skills to help solve the challenges our continent is facing.

We can’t wait to see what the next season of Game Of Learners will have for us. We will definitely keep you updated on that.



About the Author

Sharon Adisa
Sharon is a writer and editor who strives to continually further both the depth and breadth of her skills as a writer so as to contribute superior work and deliver client and customer satisfaction.

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