Tunde Alawode had one dream as a student growing up in Lagos, Nigeria: to go to the best engineering school in the world. How, though, does a student get from Lagos to MIT? Utilizing MIT’s Open Courseware at his local internet-enabled library to supplement his courses, Tunde was able to graduate best in his class, ultimately earning admission to MIT’s prestigious Mechanical Engineering PhD program. This is the power of online education and Tunde recognizes the importance of putting this opportunity in the hands of everyone.
While online education is free, access to it is not. Out of this passion to make access to high quality education extremely affordable, dotLearn was founded in 2015 with the goal of making digital education available to 50 million students in 6 years. Utilizing software compression technology, dotLearn is able to make video learning as lightweight as Whatsapp and as affordable as SMS.
A two-time awardee of the MIT-AFRICA Travel Awards Program, the plane tickets granted to Tunde’s start-up have helped launch dotLearn’s first-ever product testing in Ghana. On receiving both awards, Tunde says, “MIT-AFRICA has been very supportive of our drive to create Africa's Khan Academy. They provided four return tickets last year, wrote us recommendation letters for funding from other sources, and provided opportunities for us to meet with the Governor of Lagos and speak to over 100 people. This year, we were provided with an opportunity to meet the MIT alumni community in Lagos and will also get support for travel this summer.
In the future, when we are able to reach millions of African students with greater access to education, we will look back on this time when we received tremendous support from this initiative.”