Summary: As technology races forward, there’s greater and greater uncertainty about what the future job market is going to look like, which is precisely why educational technology company MAD-learn seeks to turn students from consumers of tech into creators of it. In this piece, we explore how they go about this mission and why the Stevie® Awards honored their efforts with a Gold distinction.
In today’s landscape, technological discoveries and creations are increasing exponentially. With this rapid rate of change and development, it’s nearly impossible to anticipate what the job market is going to look like in even ten to twenty years, and it’s that very uncertainty that contributed to the creation of MAD-learn.
What Is MAD-learn?
MAD-learn, which is based out of Atlanta, Georgia, United States, is an educational technology company that runs a mobile app creation program for students. (MAD stands for “mobile app development.”) The curriculum focuses on bringing the concepts and tools of app development to students ranging from kindergartners to twelfth-graders. The program enables students to build their very own mobile apps. The web-based tool empowers all teachers—not just teachers of technology—to engage students in app development.
Alefiya Master is the founder and CEO of MAD-learn. Her educational background and professional experience motivated her to start the company.
“Alefiya has a degree in education and psychology from Emory University, and she’s gone through training and had experience as a Montessori teacher,” says Doreen Frempong-Baah, the project manager at MAD-learn. “She’s a teacher-turned-entrepreneur, and her background truly powers her passion for wide-scale educational improvement.”
What started as a small company has since grown into a program that serves over twenty thousand students across thirty states and five countries. Using just one metric of success, the company doubled its revenue in 2019 and is on track to do the same in 2020.
Technology Creation, Not Just Consumption
One of the driving principles of MAD-learn is the desire to empower today’s children to gain the skill sets necessary to solve tomorrow’s unknown problems.
“By employing our design-thinking program, we can engender twenty-first-century technology literacy, as well as teach students vital and transferable skills that will enable them to gain experience with problem identification and solution,” says Frempong-Baah. “By using the design-thinking process, we’re preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s careers. Ultimately, we aim to inspire students to become creators of technology and not just consumers of it.”
Because of the rapid rate of technological change, and the uncertainty it brings, the curriculum of MAD-learn leans heavily on the process of learning how to solve problems.
“When we don't know what jobs are going to be available ten years from now, we have to teach kids how to create,” says Frempong-Baah. “It’s important to have all kids learn to think and to create for themselves.”
Teaching children how to tackle future problems isn’t just about ensuring a spot in the workforce. It’s about learning how to harness available technology to solve global-scale problems. It is this sentiment that spurred the launch of MAD About Mattering, another initiative of MAD-learn.
“We believe strongly in global collaboration, and that’s why we created MAD About Mattering. It enables students around the world to connect and collaborate virtually to create apps that solve social problems,” says Frempong-Baah. “We’re extremely excited about the opportunity for more kids around the planet to create world-changing apps that will solve social problems and improve lives.”
Impact of Winning a Stevie® Award
MAD-learn was honored with a Gold Stevie® Award in the category of Best New Product or Service of the Year - Consumer Products at the 2019 Stevie® Awards for Women in Business. For MAD-learn, this honor has had both internal company-wide effects, as well as a sweeping positive external impact.
“Winning this award has been such an exciting time for the organization as a whole. It’s truly motivation to keep working harder,” says Frempong-Baah. “Through the exposure of the award, we have also gained more global recognition, which has increased our social media following and our overall brand recognition. Both help us keep doing our important work.”
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