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The birth of the CYBER KIDS concept

CYBER KIDS was a Cyprus based company (under MISnTED Ltd.), which launched a nation-wide experiment aiming to facilitate faster development of the country. The theory was mainly based on an open innovation method of social intervention, as well as the concept for which the term “profitable dream” was coined. The founders proposed that all profits of the core enterprise should be re-invested to the process of expansion, while everybody employed enjoyed highest financial and other benefits. They argued that those working towards the formation of a better world should profit rather than suffer. Drs. Yiannis Laouris and George Vakanas are credited for the original conceptulaization of the experiment; Co-founders and important contributors included Maria Symeonides, Dinos Georgiades and Harry Anastasiou. The founders envisioned that introducing advanced computer technology in the lives of a critical number of young children using an educationally relevant and socially responsible, peace-enhancing curriculum would allow them to “transcend” the country’s educational and political life and move the new generation a decade ahead.

The vision of CYBER KIDS

CYBER KIDS was founded on a well-thought and well-defined vision statement:

“… to re-define the tools, methods and purpose of education, in light of relevant social change.”

  • The term ''re-define'' revealed a revolutionary disposition. From a dialectic point of view, it implied that the conventional educational systems needed to be completely re-visited and re-defined rather than upgraded and transformed in order to meet the needs and challenges of the new millennium. It.
  • The term ''tools'', referred to and called for the need to integrate the new emerging technologies such as computers and new software into the educational context. For the 1990’s, tools referred mainly to computer and the Internet. Today, it would also refer to mobile devices, social networking systems, virtual reality, immersive environments etc.
  • The term ''methods'', was used to highlight the urgent need for new methodologies, new pedagogical approaches and new theories to guide learning activities.
  • The term ''purpose'', disclosed the necessity to question the very purpose of conventional education, and to open up discussion and inquiry as to why and for what end children should spend half their lives in schools. It further denoted the exploration and development of novel approaches to learning and acquisition of new knowledge in light of globalizing conditions and the consequent need for a global culture of peace and cooperative symbiosis.

The central concept of the vision statement envisioned a society in which people not only engage in learning activities voluntarily and with enthusiasm, but also with high respect for knowledge, wisdom and human values relevant for global co-existence.

  • Finally, the phrase “... in light of relevant social change,” suggested that the above vision, stated within the context of a dynamically changing world, will be ever changing to accommodate evolving needs.

The KnowledgePacket® innovation

The core recipe for the development of all CYBER KIDS lessons was based on a proprietary concept named KnowledgePacket®. The innovation of the approach (which was honored by 7 international awards) lies in the way the creators managed to intermingle curricula with incompatible structure and goals to produce a developmentally ordered and well-structured curriculum, which was completely learner-centered and project-oriented. The concept of the

KnowledgePacket® was applied to each lesson (i.e., project) and extended the value of the learning activity by combining within one and the same project the following attributes: (

  1. Educational theme and value;
  2. Mental and psycho-emotional development;
  3. Computer skills;
  4. Social awareness and linking to real-life and society;
  5. Detailed instructions to teacher;
  6. Proposed software.

The KnowledgePacket® can be viewed today as a predecessor of Learning Objects (LOs). Recent contributions of C.N.T.I. in the global efforts for standardization of LOs are using concepts from the original KnowledgePacket® in an attempt to add to the educational, mental and social dimensions in the LO standards (see Laouris, Y. 2005. Educationally relevant meta-data in learning objects: Necessary condition for re-usability. In: O. I. Hillestad & A. Bopardikar (Eds.), Proceedings Cost276, May 26-28, 2005, pp 61-66, Trondheim, Norway; Laouris, Y., Papadopoullou, Y. & Gerjets, P. 2005. Ubiquitous adaptation of learning objects to the level of the learner. Proceedings Cost219ter Workshop Accessibility for all. Ayia Napa Cyprus, Oct 7.)

Short history of CYBER KIDS

The number of franchised centers launched increased exponentially from 1992 to 1997 (1, 3, 5, 26 and 22), as well as the number of entrepreneurs (3, 4, 21, 34 and 54) and the number of instructors trained and employed (6, 17, 87, 100 and 186). The total number of students who have benefited from the Cyber Kids curriculum has exceeded 15,000 and that of adults, 10,000. Of course, these numbers might seem small, however, taking into account the size of the country (i.e. 700,000 citizens; 75,000 children in the age range 6-15), the implications for social change were quite real. Cyber Kids evolved into an organization of thousands, if one counts also students and parents. This community of people shared an enthusiastic dream, had an appreciation for the value of education and their mind was turned towards the future. Their collective positivism added to a culture of confidence and transmited a euphoria, which in turn contributed to the creation and amplification of a socially healthy momentum for change.

The cumulative income for the Headquarter rose from about $100,000 during the first year of operation to over 5 million in 1999. In the same period, the cumulative income from all franchises exploded to 17 million.

In year 2000, CYBER KIDS became victim of the internbational stock market crises, as well as victim of a number of unwise government interventions (which later proved also to be unconstitutional) and ceased all operations.