This Winners Session presents the Top 10 Breakthroughs in the Digital Education category. With dedication and expertise, the winners have taken various innovative approaches to improve virtual learning. Viewers will be introduced to video games designed to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, online education methods for people without internet access, and software designed to help educators successfully teach digital courses and to encourage virtual learning. All projects are committed to overcoming past boundaries and increasing access to valuable educational resources, from accredited bachelor’s degree programs for refugees to using virtual reality to ‘travel’ to the Pyramids of Giza to study tombs. Jury member Bror Saxberg stresses: “Many learning environments were putting a toe in the water of digital education already, but around the globe, the pandemic really kicked us all off the edge of the pool into the deep. […] These award winners are really remarkable sign posts [sic] of what can come.“


We are delighted to announce the ten winners in the category Digital Education:


Breaking the Wall of the Lack of Public Health in Schools
Todd Brown is the co-inventor of the world’s first infectious disease simulation app.


Breaking the Wall of Connectivity
Stephane Coillet-Matillon found a way to distribute online educational content to people without internet access.


Breaking the Wall to Science Experiments from Home
Arturo Dominguez built a completely remote controlled plasma physics experiment.


Breaking the Wall to Happier Teens
Lynn Fiellin builds and tests videogame interventions targeting HIV/STI prevention, mental health, and drug and alcohol use prevention.


Breaking the Wall of Digital Education
Keith Kostrzewski is building a free software for all teachers to easily author exciting digital courses.


Breaking the Wall to Giza 3D: Visualizing the Pyramids
Peter Manuelian employs VR to allow for students around the world to enter the tombs of Giza.


Breaking the Wall to learn Something from Everyone
Deepak Ramola documents, designs and passes on wisdom from all ages and backgrounds across the world.


Breaking the Wall of Refugee Education
Chrystina Russell is unlocking the potential of a new generation of leaders affected by conflict and economic disinvestment.


Breaking the Wall to widely available Data Acquisition in Science Education
Sebatian Staacks built a free and open-source app to turn your smartphone into a mobile lab.


Breaking the Wall of College Learning Boundaries
Julie Young eliminates the boundaries between high school and university to make educational journeys genuinely learner-centered.

Dr. Brown is a patented co-inventor of the world’s first infectious disease simulation app, Operation Outbreak, and is a partner with Dr. Pardis Sabeti and Dr. Andres Colubri on Operation Outbreak of MIT and Harvard. He has been invited to and presented in eleven countries. Dr. Brown is the winner of the U.S. Congressional Teacher of the Year, Air Force STEM Teacher of the Year, CDC Science Education Fellowship, U.S. Henry Ford Innovator of the Year, UN Sustainable Development Goals Ambassador, Ignite Innovation Award, and has been named to the Advisory Board to Faulu Academy in Kenya, Africa.

Biographies look all the same, so here is instead a little story: I’m old enough that my first browser was Netscape – I started using internet when the web was a couple of years old and Yahoo! was the biggest search engine. That was about 30 years ago, and today only the richest half of the world’s population has internet access. The bottom half, in the meantime, remains unconnected. How long do you think it will take to reach these? I don’t know either, but this is why we created Kiwix – so that people can access content without the need for permanent connectivity.

Arturo Dominguez received his B.S. in physics at the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2012. He did his doctoral work on the development and analysis of a reflectometry system for the Alcator C-Mod Tokamak at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at MIT. At the PPPL Science Education Department, as a postdoc and now a Senior Program Leader, he has conducted research on dusty plasmas and the development of plasma demos, particularly, the merging of online learning tools and actual lab experiments.

Dr. Fiellin is a Yale Professor and founding director of the play2PREVENT Lab at the Yale Center for Health & Learning Games. She builds and tests videogame interventions targeting HIV prevention, promotion of HIV/STI testing, mental health and wellness, and drug and alcohol use prevention. Her team forges successful collaborations between teens, community-based organizations, scientists, educators, and videogame developers. They use principles of character education and social emotional learning to develop targeted digital health interventions that positively impact the well-being of teens.

Keith Kostrzewski has nearly 20 years’ experience in the Education Technology space, with a wide portfolio of some of the leading firms in the industry. Prior to taking the reigns as CEO of Curriki, Keith was the Head of Sales for LEGO Education North America. Keith also spent three years with Pearson North America as Regional General Manager, and eight years in various growth-focused roles with the education technology startup Schoolnet prior to its acquisition by Pearson in 2011.

Peter Der Manuelian is Barbara Bell Professor of Egyptology at Harvard University, and director of the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. His Giza Project at Harvard present online past, present, and future archaeological activity at the Giza Pyramids. His interests include visualization and digital humanities approaches to the ancient world. Selected publications include Digital Giza. Visualizing the Pyramids; and Mastabas of Nucleus Cemetery G 2100; Slab Stelae of the Giza Necropolis.

Deepak Ramola is the Founder and Artistic Director of Project FUEL, an organisation that documents and designs human wisdom. He also serves as the Kindness Ambassador for UNESCO MGIEP. Through his methodology, recognised at world’s top 100 innovations in education by HundreED, he has worked with Maasai women to young girls in Afghanistan and to sex workers of Kamathipura, learnings from earthquake survivors in Nepal to Syrian refugees in Europe and migration-affected villages of Uttarakhand, India. He is also a published author of an award-winning collection of Hindi poetry.

Dr. Russell is the Executive Director of GEM of the Southern New Hampshire University. She spearheaded the original model in Rwanda to bring university education and employment pathways to refugee learners. Previously, she was the Chief Academic Officer of Kepler, the first blended learning university program in Rwanda. She was the founding principal of Global Tech Prep, a public school focused on low-income students and technology. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a BA in Social Organization & Minority Communities, and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the CUNY Graduate Center.

Sebastian Staacks is a physicist and the developer of phyphox at the RWTH Aachen University, where he received his PhD in solid state physics in 2014. As a scientific assistant (“Akademischer Rat”) he focuses on digitalization in science education. His work has been decorated with several prices, including the Ars Legendi faculty award (Stifterverband) and the Archimedes award (MNU). Except for service, he is a father of two children, a drummer and a developer for domestic automation contraptions.

Managing Director of ASU Prep Digital, Julie is passionate about leveraging technology to build student-centered learning models. Under her leadership, ASU Prep Digital has realized triple-digit growth in four years, extending services, training, and content to students globally. The program flattens boundaries between high school and college, offering 200+ college pathways in a K-20 platform.

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