Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Education is one of the foundations of empowerment. As the gateway to the web, Microsoft Edge recognizes the role it plays in giving millions of people access to knowledge and learning. We look for opportunities to contribute to organizations that need technology solutions to drive greater impact. Therefore, we are inspired to partner with organizations focusing on literacy to empower communities around the world.
Strongly believing in the work CHOICE Humanitarian does to bring literacy to women in underprivileged regions, this was a perfect opportunity for Microsoft Edge to contribute. So, by working at the ground level together, CHOICE and Microsoft Edge developed this browser-based solution to meet the unique literacy needs of communities worldwide starting with Chulac, Guatemala.
Accent is designed to run in any modern web browser, making it possible for students and organizations to use it with many different types of devices including those that they may already have on hand. Additionally, Accent will be the first exposure that many students have to a personal computer or digital device. By accessing Accent from the browser, students gain familarity and confidence with the web. Accent provides an opportunity to teach not just the subject at hand, but also "technical literacy" - skills that will help those students continue their education through self-directed exploration of the world's information. The gateway to that information is the browser.
The ability to easily integrate media including recorded voices and videos was extremely important for CHOICE to be able to continue building training programs from anywhere. Accent also enables CHOICE mentors to gather metrics, make updates and track each student's progress remotely.
Creating and uploading content in real-time is a key part of making Accent versatile to be applicable to a variety of languages and communities. Educators can upload images and sounds that are locally relevant within the existing curriculum or create new curriculum at any time. The platform helps educators build new activity templates without needing coding skills.
The platform for Accent needed to support ongoing development of courses and curriculum that would extend beyond simple language skills. The team focused on creating a learning engine that could be accessed without sign-in requirements and work both online and offline to serve the students in these remote villages. Simple interface was also a requirement given their lack of familiarity with technology.
The platform needed to have an engine that would enable curriculums that employed important language learning styles including sound and gestures, support sporadic updates, not require extensive computing skills or knowledge to build lessons and provide analytics for the mentors.
The backend of the platform needed to enable easy deployment of new lessons or updates and provide simple editing modules that could be quickly uploaded and stored within the platform. The curriculum interface for the teachers and mentors needed to enable them to create new lesson plans, classes or curriculums without coding literacy.
The platform (including the website, editable user interface, and the course materials) are built and run on Microsoft Azure. The platform leverages Microsoft Edge reading view and the ability to incorporate touch and inking into the curriculum.
The Accent platform is designed as an open source training environment where organizations can work with CHOICE to build new curriculum that teaches new languages, and skills beyond literacy. It is designed to with a flexible deploy model that scales from the cloud all the way down to a local network or even a single machine.