Berlin (GER), November 2014 - Kiddify is a young project of Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson, who worked as an educational consultant. But before this, she performed as a concert pianist, offered arts-based classes to children in schools, and created out-of-school creative camps. Her most recent research projects explored the "pupil voice", the influence of digital media on children around the world and the potential of peer interaction on learning outcomes. As a result, she founded Kiddify and brings this experience to ONLINE EDUCA Berlin on 05 December 5 2014, in the session "Video Educa" from 11:45 to 13:15.
When was Kiddify founded and who was behind the effort?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: I founded Kiddify in 2013 after having attended the Berlin chapter of the Founders Institute. I am an educational researcher and consultant and had spent the past few years working as a consultant for a number of NGOs, multilateral agencies, and schools. I was involved in globally assisting the establishment of schools, developing curricula, and providing inputs into the process of school-reform efforts.
My most recent research projects explored the influence of digital media (video) and the potential of peer interaction on learning outcomes. It was evident that the combination of peer-to-peer and video held great potential, which was largely underexplored in theory and practice. Video is playing an increasingly important role in the transmission of knowledge, and one for which school-aged children have a particular affinity. As a result of my findings, I decided to create Kiddify, an online infrastructure where children under eighteen can share their knowledge and skills with their peers around the world.
Who funds it?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: After having attended the Founders Institute, I was luckily able to attract two business angels who were very interested in educational technology. Soon after, I secured seed funding from Tenglemann Social Ventures, which was great. They immediately believed in the vision and potential.
What are the platform’s goals?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: The platform’s simple goal is to enable or rather empower under-eighteen-year-olds to share their skills and knowledge with each other.
Children have a natural desire to share what they can do; show and tell. We all know how inherently creative they are and can be once offered the opportunity They also have a natural interest in connecting to their peers and learning about how they live and what they do in different countries. I feel that these natural instincts often become squelched the further one progresses through traditional educational structures. We would like to nourish these natural instincts and empower all children to feel as if they have something to share.
Could you please tell us about your experience with Kiddify so far?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: We are literally just starting in the sense that it took a while to create a basic technological infrastructure. Now with the needed platform in place, we have invited the first 150 registrants to become our testers. They are offering us feedback at the moment, and we are using this as a basis for further development.
We are in the process of reaching out to partner organisations and schools, and the resonance thus far has been simply wonderful!
How is the peer-to-peer production process organized?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: The platform content is completely peer driven; content is created by kids for kids. Essentially, the users are invited to create their own videos, usually in the form of short tutorials on topics they enjoy. The Kiddify team then translates them into different languages (at the moment we have English, German and Spanish and more coming each month), and places them into the appropriate category topic (we have twelve categories at present).
The users decide what videos to create and how useful they are is for them. Users can also request "mentors" (youth who have excelled in a particular field) in specific topics to respond to specific questions. For example if a user has a specific request for a tutorial on social entrepreneurship, the team at Kiddify will find an appropriate “mentor” to respond specifically to the questions in the form of a video tutorial.
We are just starting and are now in a closed beta mode. But, it is really great to see how much fun users are having creating their own tutorials and being able to safely share them on the platform. We have children from varying demographics around the world learning from each other in different ways.
I think that what the users thus far enjoy is that the platform gives them all an opportunity to become creators; "producers" and "teachers" of their own directly perceived personal knowledge and being placed in a position of a creator and teacher. Having to explain the process really empowers children. It enables them to use a completely different skill set, distinct from the up-down teacher-pupil learning experience. It makes them feel important.
What are the project’s future ambitions?
Dr. Paula Laurel Jackson: I see Kiddify as a tool that can and will be used in myriad ways. I see it in educational institutions assisting in instruction and as a fun place for kids to share and learn from each other. Further along, I see it as a possible way to fill the teacher gap in countries where access is limited or non-existent. As we develop, I hope to grow the platform into a primary global youth network; the resource for peer-to-peer exchange on numerous levels for youth under eighteen.