Tech buffs and higher-ed proponents tuned in last Friday to the 55,000 Degrees Innovation in Education Attainment Competition.

The prize for the winning person or team is $20,000. Mayor Greg Fischer is scheduled to announce the winner at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at Metro Hall.

55,000 Degrees, a local non-profit that seeks to increase the percentage of Louisville’s workforce with college diplomas, received more than 80 submissions for the Education Attainment Competition starting last September.

Eight finalists were selected from the submissions.

Six of them, a mix of individuals, for-profits, schools and a governmental organization, made final presentations of prototypes for their ideas Friday at the Louisville Free Public Library Main Branch on York Street.

According to the 55,000 Degrees website, prototypes included:

  • An on-line computer game that encourages students to learn about college and careers while completing exciting missions
  • Mobile phone apps that link students to college information, resources and social networks
  • After-school computer-based learning clubs to encourage high school students to explore technology skills and opportunities
  • A network of on-line, cloud-based college courses
  • The expansion and promotion a college program that uses online options and worker-friendly scheduling to help  adults with college credits to complete their degrees
  • Mobile phone apps that allow prospective students to shop and compare area colleges and their programs

For those following the presentations on Twitter from the handle @55kDegrees and the hashtag #55kprize, it looks as though some familiar names in the Louisville technology arena were present.

The Gheens Foundation and 55,000 Degrees sponsored the competition for ideas of how new, innovative technology could:

  • Motivate and support Louisville area traditional and non-traditional students to earn a post-secondary degree
  • Employ technology-based approaches to improve degree completion rates and attract more college-educated people to Louisville
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Niki King is a professional journalist who also co-publishes thehillville.com, an online magazine celebrating urban Appalachia. She recently finished her master’s degree in community and leadership development at the University of Kentucky where she studied urban planning, economic development and communication. She proudly calls a recently restored shotgun house in the Original Highlands home.

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