Tech startups are looking to alter the approach to career development by injecting new technology and creative critical thinking into education, and ideas presented at the Arabnet conference in Beirut Thursday were as ambitious as they were imaginative.
One such proposal, by Jordan’s Lana Karrain, was for the online company Fakker (“Think” in Arabic), a platform for people to discover their academic and professional interests through games.
“It’s career development through games. It helps young people discover their strengths – strategic, analytical or mathematical” Karrain explained after she gave a two-minute pitch for her plan for Fakker at the Ideathon, a competition for startups in the early stages.
“The games already exist,” she said. “But no one has capitalized on them for career development.”
The company is still in the Alpha testing phase, but Karrain said that once it was more developed she envisioned recruiters contacting job seekers based on their strengths and interests.
However, she maintained that her site would continue to be about games so people would not feel like they were being tested.
Another equally aspiring tech startup to come out of Jordan is Codely, whose founder, Sinan Taifour, has started an interactive computer program that teaches school students, kindergarten through 12th grade, about computer programing through interactive quizzes and online videos.
“It’s an online platform to get students excited about learning on real computer science topics,” he told The Daily Star after giving a five-minute demonstration of one of the 10 early-stage startups that were being presented at Arabnet Thursday.
In Jordan, he said, such computer education wasn’t taught until college, which he believed was too late for someone to become a successful young IT entrepreneur, noting that Microsoft and Facebook founders Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg both learned computer programing as children (Taifour started at age 11).
For the youngest users, Taifour uses an animated turtle to demonstrate basic computer skills (he is also considering introducing a robotic turtle into classrooms to interact with students).
As the grades move up, the program moves onto more complicated coding.
By September, he expects to have Codely in at least 50 classrooms across Jordan, a plan that he says is being encouraged by the kingdom’s Education Ministry, and one he hopes will be the beginning of a company that reaches the global market.