When Peter Diamandis has spoken on venues like Neil Degrasse Tyson's StarTalk before he's credited science fiction (the Jetsons, Star Trek) for helping inspire his interest in space. In fact, many of the XPrizes have had science fiction antecedents - private space travel (the Ansari X Prize) was first imagined by visionaries like Jules Verne (From the Earth to the Moon) and Robert Heinlein (The Man Who Sold the Moon). The easiest XPrize to connect to science fiction is, of course the Qualcomm Tricorder XPrize, which is directly taken from Star Trek.
Well, the Global Learning XPrize has an antecedent as well. And it's one we need all to consider. In 1995 Neal Stephenson wrote a novel titled "The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer". In many ways the technology he described is similar to what the Global Learning XPrize also seeks to create.
In the story, the technology was created for a privileged few, and was then pirated and released to the poor afterwards, where the primers were manufactured en masse in a secret facility. We don't have to worry about the software, since the XPrize specifically states that it must be open-sourced. However, we do have to worry about the cost of the hardware - just as there is a need for open-source software, in order to bring costs down we may also need to make sure that this is available on low-cost open-source hardware as well.
But the more interesting thing from the novel is that the shared experience of using the primer created a community - a community that became a political force by the end of the novel. That is something that I think is not only possible, but likely. And it's something we should consider as teams begin working towards the prize goal - the software needs to be open-ended. It shouldn't end once the main goals are reached but should be expandable to allow learning more and more topics as the children grow older and want to learn new things.
A final thing to take from the novel is that the main form of teaching that the technology in the novel took on was in the form of storytelling. That's also something I think teams should consider carefully - storytelling is an ancient human art form that is shared by all cultures. The fact that it has been so successful, for so many millenia is that it touches something deep inside the human soul (or perhaps resonates with something in the deep neural structure of the human brain, which may be the same thing). As the committee considers the different team's solutions, that's something we need to look at - does the approach work across cultures, and would it be just as comprehensible to someone 50 years ago as it would be to a child today, or a child 50 years from now?