Teacher shortage? There’s an app for that

  • App that helps tackle teacher shortage problem declared winner in Imagine Cup
  • Winners will represent Malaysia in Worldwide Finals in Australia in July

Teacher shortage? There’s an app for thatSTUDENTS from the Asia Pacific University College of Technology and Innovation (UCTI) have developed an application called WizBoard that they believe would help solve the problem of teacher shortage anywhere in the world.

The app needs just one teacher to teach in the class – the lesson is saved and can then be made accessible to people from all walks of life, including those from a different language background or location. The solution can also be used by the visually impaired.

The students were from Team Rhapsody (pic), and their solution won them first prize at the Imagine Cup 2012 Malaysia Finals which took place last week in Kota Kinabalu in the east Malaysian state of Sabah. The team was also the winner last year.

They will go on to represent Malaysia in the Worldwide Finals organized by US software giant Microsoft Corp in Sydney, Australia in July.

The annual Malaysian leg is conceptualized and organized by Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) and Microsoft, with the strong backing and support of the Ministry of Higher Education.

WizBoard was very much in keeping with the theme of the competition, “Imagine a world where technology helps solve the toughest problem,” UTeM said in a statement. Participants are required to use technology to help solve real world problems as defined by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.

Team Rhapsody was among the 30 finalists of the Malaysian leg of the competition, and also won the supplementary Innovation Award presented by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) for the solution with the most business viability.

“Knowledge and wealth creation has become one of the major factors in the nation’s economic development, and this is determined by the ability to innovate in a continuous manner,“ said Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khaled bin Nordin, Minister of Higher Education.

“The Imagine Cup is thus a platform for students to hone their potential in technology innovation to code their ideas and imagination on real-world issues,” he said in a speech read by his Secretary-General Datuk Ab Rahim Md Noor.

“Since its debut in 2003, the Imagine Cup Malaysia has grown by leaps and bounds. In the first year only 90 students participated in this competition and now, 10 year later, we received more than 1,800 registrations for this year’s competition,” said Prof Datuk Dr Ahmad Yusoff, Vice-Chancellor of UTeM and chairman of the Imagine Cup 2011 Organizing Committee.

“This encouraging response is a testament of the success of the Imagine Cup … in reaching out to the hearts of the students who are eager to make a difference and tackle global economic, environmental, healthcare issues. I believe the power of technology harnessed creatively by minds of our young ones will be instrumental in overcoming those challenges” he added.

The Imagine Cup, also dubbed the “Olympics” of student technology competitions, provides an opportunity for young people to use their creativity, passion and knowledge of technology to help solve global challenges and make a difference in the world, said Ananth Lazarus, managing director of Microsoft Malaysia.

The company, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary in Malaysia, has developed what it calls its “National Plan” for Malaysia, he said.

This is a long-standing commitment to help accelerate Malaysia’s transformation into a technologically advanced, high-income country, based on three strategic  pillars -- transforming education, businesses and Malaysian lives through the power of technology, he added.

“As part of our commitment to help Malaysia transform education, some of the most important things we can do are to provide the opportunity as well as the tools to unleash your creative and innovative potential, to imagine a better world.

“This is exactly where the Imagine Cup comes in: It is an investment into the future game-changers of the country,” Ananth said.

A notable second in this year’s national finals was the 4GM team from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), which developed “Recycle Bingo” a system on the Windows Phone platform that tackles environmental sustainability and energy wastage.

Sirius,  yet another UPM team, came in third with their invention called “Hooray Hubby,” a pregnancy information game that targets husbands who want to better understand pregnancy in an informative and fun way. The team also took home the supplementary Presentation Superstars Award for their teamwork and presentation.

Other winners of the Malaysian leg include:

* Team SLIM from Tunku Abdul Rahman College (TARC) won the Windows Phone 7 Mobile Development Award for “Gavida,” a solution that helps reduce the maternity mortality rate and improve the healthcare of conceiving mothers by providing them with different ways to ensure that they are prepared during childbirth.

* Team KIHECT from Universiti Teknology Malaysia (UKM) won the Kinect Fun Life Award for the “Kinect Hand-Eye Coordination Trainer.”

* Team Beyond Imagination took home the Social Cause Award for “1 Bid, One Hope” that works as a donation point and a bidding hub, similar to e-Bay or lelong.com.

Since the introduction of the Imagine Cup in 2003, the number of participants worldwide has been growing steadily, Microsoft said. This year, more than 350,000 students are expected to compete in the worldwide finals in Sydney, Australia in July.

Malaysia has consistently done well in in the Worldwide Finals. In 2009, Team Cosmic and Team Capricorn, both from University Science Malaysia, took home the 1st and 3rd prize in the Unlimited Potential Design for Development Award.

In 2010, Team HDC from APIIT-UCTI became the first Malaysian team to ever become one of the Top 6 finalists in the Software Design Category, while in 2011, Team Cyber Knightz, from APIIT-UCTI, were part of the Top 16 in the Software Design Category.

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