2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight: Digitally Democratizing Education

Written by Megan Simpson | February 5, 2014

At SXSW 2014, Katrin Macmillan discusses digitally democratizing education

Katrin Macmillan founded Projects For All in 2013 with the aim of helping communities solve their problems to improve their lives and ours. This installment of the Session Spotlight features Macmillan’s SXSW Interactive panel titled, “Digitally Democratizing Education”, which will discuss democratizing access to education by implementing digital infrastructure in developing countries. To learn more about Projects for All, follow @ProjectsForAll on Twitter and read on!

SXSW: What will you cover in your SXSW session?
Macmillan: Pioneering nonprofit, Projects For All, is democratizing access to education by implementing digital infrastructure (Hello Hubs) in developing countries. Recently, the nonprofit launched Project: Hello World, an installation of digital, internet-enabled, kiosks in African communities. The Hello Hubs deliver educational tools, Internet connectivity and a place in the 'Granny Cloud' digital mentoring program, while providing protection against human right violation by enabling community journalism. We will discuss the importance of entrepreneurial approaches to development work, why we are focusing on digital education and connectivity for equality, how Projects For All overcomes the logistical challenges of reaching remote communities, and the importance of sustained digital programs in creating long-term change.

SXSW: What kinds of people will want to attend this session? Why will they enjoy your panel?
Macmillan: People should attend if they are interested in digital education and the school in the cloud, child-driven education, community-led development, Africa, developing economies, online journalism, open source, digital creativity, emerging technology, and e-mentoring and the Granny Cloud. Projects for All is announcing a new paradigm that will transform education worldwide for many millions of people and provide a platform for SXSW registrants to connect one-on-one with children in Africa, as mentors and teachers. It’s called the Granny Cloud, check it out here.

SXSW: What excites you most about this session?
Macmillan: It’s an opportunity to hear creative ideas and feedback from SXSW attendees on Project Hello World and to establish connections to expand the Hello Hub network.

SXSW: What’s the best web post that you’ve seen in relation to this topic?
Macmillan: Sugata Mitra, a Projects for All board member, has an inspiring, award-winning TED talk on this topic. It is worth watching.

SXSW: In your opinion, why is speaking at SXSW Interactive a big deal?
Macmillan: Interactivity is at the core of Projects for All's methodology. The nonprofit is building platforms across Africa to enable children to join the online conversation, to be innovative and creative and to share their ideas. Sharing our model with the open source community is an opportunity to keep improving what we do and stay truly cutting edge.

SXSW: Who or what inspires your creativity?
Macmillan: I am motivated by a sense of injustice at the inequality experienced by so many. Project Hello World is our way of ensuring that all children can have access to an education, a fair start in life, and the ability and tools to lift themselves out of poverty. If we combined all aid budgets available for education it wouldn’t scratch the surface of delivering traditional education to the millions who need it. A new paradigm for education is needed. We will only be on-track when our plans to deliver top-quality education can reach everyone, that is what inspired Project Hello World.

Watch this website for more installments of the 2014 SXSW Interactive Session Spotlight. Click here for the complete list of programming for March in Austin. For tips on interesting sessions to attend, visit the new Recommendation page. Register now to attend “Digitally Democratizing Education” and other incredible programming at SXSW Interactive 2014.