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Mike Dawson

UstadMobile

Mike Dawson (CEO of UstadMobile) has been working in Education Technology in developing countries for over 8 years and has 15 years of software development experience. He is the CEO of Ustad Mobile ; an open source edtech startup that helps track school attendance and deliver learning content to offline low cost devices in India, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Kenya amongst other locations

He led the original implementation of One Laptop Per Child in Afghanistan as the CEO of Paiwastoon, an Afghan International ICT company. The project included the creation of interactive content for the Afghan curriculum in Dari and Pashto, teacher training and infrastructure. Seeing the challenges of using high cost high maintenance infrastructure Mike started to look for ways that content could be created for devices that people already themselves. Mike has worked and provided consultancy and software development services to USAID Projects, Oxfam Novib, and UN agencies.

From his experience in Afghanistan, Mike became very adept at handling engineering in difficult environments. He worked on solar power systems design and implementation for both education technology and general communication projects, bandwidth management systems for limited connectivity environments and low maintenance auto restoring systems to be used in environments with limited access to IT expertise. He is fluent writing code in Java, Python, HTML5/Javascript and Perl and has contributed code to numerous open source projects including Nokia for Arabic font handling on feature phones and patches to synchronize email for offline use.

UstadMobile

Project of Mike Dawson

Ustad Mobile enables educators to author their own learning materials including audio, video, quizzes, and games, and make them accessible on almost any mobile device. Its attendance and results-­tracking technology allows teachers to keep a track of students’ progress and learning. Laptops, tablets and high­-end mobile phones are not necessary to use the app which is proving to be an asset to NGOs operating in remote and underdeveloped regions.

Statistics and learning material can be sent when a connection is available, providing educators with rapid access to rich reports even from remote areas with infrastructure challenges. The platform is designed to work offline, allowing content authors in locations with low­-speed Internet access to create rich content ­ including large multimedia files ­without worrying about bandwidth. It is point-­and-­click attendance tracking technology and does not require computer-­programming skills that can be difficult and expensive to find. The platform is in use by multiple organizations in Afghanistan, Kenya, Zambia, Iraq and Germany, teaching literacy, workforce skills, languages, and even basic computer usage.

In addition, Ustad Mobile is currently working on a native app release for Android to improve user experience. In 2015, Ustad Mobile was the prize-­winning finalist in the Enabling Writers competition, sponsored by All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development.