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 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.
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: (
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.