"Children today are practically born with the ability to operate smartphones and tablets. These technologies have great potential to help them to explore the world and learn, but for this to happen someone must guide their steps. But in many cases, parents do not have enough time to dedicate to this. So Blanca Rodriguez has created a platform with content for children which allows parents to monitor their children´s learning.
The project, which has led to Rodríguez´s inclusion in MIT Technology Review, Spanish Edition's Innovators Under 35 Spain 2016 awards, is called Smile and Learn. It offers a dual function catalogue of games and stories: while children have fun and improve their skills, their parents and teachers can obtain detailed reports of their activity within the application.
Rodríguez explains: ""I have always been interested in social impact, and education is one of the best sectors for generating a change in the society we live in."" The platform´s applications have already been downloaded over 300.000 times and are being used in 85 educational centers in Spain and the United States. Much of its success is attributable to the big data algorithm trained to generate very visual automatic reports which summarize the skills which need improvement or the games and stories which the child prefers.
Smile and Learn´s educational methodology is based on Howard Gardner´s theory of multiple intelligence. According to this expert, there are different types of intelligence with specific characteristics and there are no smarter people, only people with different capabilities.
Rodríguez recalls: ""I have always been against how schools teach, with a one-size-fits-all methodology for all students. But we are not all the same."" Accordingly, each app is centered on a specific type of intelligence, as opposed to age categories or styles of games. In future, in addition to the usage reports, more algorithms will be added to generate recommendations for children to hone a particular form of intelligence.
According to the director of data strategy and analysis at IBM and jury member for the Innovators Under 25 Spain 2016 awards, Erick Brethenoux, the most interesting functionality of Smile and Learn resides in ""the smart recommendations and reactive interventions, based on the platform´s ability to personally track children and their progress while also including a powerful enough engine to provide appropriate recommendations."