Carnegie Mellon University

What is the Global Learning XPRIZE?rs35468_glexp_2017_wfp-on-the-ground_20180123_1704.jpg

The Global Learning XPRIZE was a $15M competition to develop an open-source Android tablet app that enables children ages 7-10 without access to formal education to learn basic reading, writing, and arithmetic without adult assistance.

On May 15, 2019, XPRIZE awarded the $10M Grand Prize to the Finalists whose Swahili apps yielded the highest total learning gains in a 15-month-long independent controlled field study conducted by XPRIZE in 170 villages in Tanzania.

The Global Learning XPRIZE is a start, not an end.  It's a bold proof of concept that tablet technology can fill the gap left by market failure to provide basic education for many children in developing countries.  It's a first step toward XPRIZE's vision of a technology-enabled world class education for every child on the planet.


  • April 2015:  198 teams from 40 countries registered.  The RoboTutor team started and continues at Carnegie Mellon University, but is registered in the Global Learning XPRIZE as RoboTutor LLC.
  • December 2015:  RoboTutor team started kid-testing activities in a home and at CMU Children's School


  •  April 2016:  RoboTutor beta site in Mugeta started kid-testing activities
  • June 2016:  RoboTutor beta site in Bagamoyo started kid-testing activities
  • January 2017:  38 teams from 17 countries on 6 continents submitted their apps in English and Swahili.
  • April 2017:  XPRIZE judges chose 11 Semifinalists, including RoboTutor.
  • May 2017:  XPRIZE pilot-tested Semifinalists' Swahili apps on local children outside Dar Es Salaam.
  • June 2017:  Semifinalists presented to the international panel of judges who picked five $1M Finalists.
  • September 2017:  XPRIZE announced RoboTutor as one of five $1M Finalists.rs34965_glexp_20170917_social-good-summit-nyc_2772-lpr-jack-robotutor-janet.jpg
  • Fall 2017:  XPRIZE assigned children ages 7-10 in 170 villages in Tanzania to participate in its 15-month-long independent controlled evaluation of the Finalists' Swahili apps, and pretested them on a battery of individually administered measures of reading, writing, and numeracy.
  • December 2017:  XPRIZE deployed each Finalist's app to 28 villages on Pixel C Android tablets donated by Google.  30 other villages served as a delayed-treatment control group that will receive the winning app after the study.
  • May 2018:  RoboTutor submitted the first of its two allowed updates.
  • October 2018:  RoboTutor submitted its second and final update.
  • March 2019:  XPRIZE posttested the study participants on the same measures as the pretest.
  • May 15, 2019:  In the live-streamed Grand Prize award ceremony at Google's Playa Vista campus in Los Angeles, XPRIZE awarded the $10M Grand Prize to the teams whose app achieved the highest total learning gains, counting reading 60%, writing 10%, and numeracy 30%.