This educational technology startup combines artificial intelligence and voice with real books to advance children’s literacy
Even though decades of robust research demonstrates both intrinsic motivation to read and print book ownership strongly shape kids’ reading achievement than using any instructional technique, however, few existing educational software products address them. Mia Learning is an educational technology startup with focus on helping students improve their ability to make their own choices rather than making those choices for them.
The startup helps students find books that suit their needs and interests, going beyond the surface level reading assessments currently administered in most schools. Mia combines the same voice chatbot technology marketed to kids on platforms like Alexa with insights from literacy education research.
Today, Mia Learning announced its new Secret Agent Mia Book Club. The Club builds resistant/struggling readers’ motivation and connects more enthusiastic young readers with a steady stream of new books they wouldn’t otherwise have encountered. The new Secret Agent Mia’s Book Club is available through Indiegogo for $15 per month, 25% off the retail price. Kids receive unlimited access to the voice chatbot and two new print books each month, delivered to their home. The campaign runs July 22 through August 20, 2019.
Mia Learning was founded in May 2017 in Washington, DC by Darren Cambridge and Kathleen Perez-Lopez, inspired by Cambridge’s struggle to help his son learn to love books despite a reading-specific learning disability. The company received the Most Promising Innovation Prize from SEED Spot and Booz Allen Hamilton and won a Small Business Innovation Research award from the National Science Foundation.
The story of Darren is an incredible one. He went to college to be a computer engineer, but later fell in love with the humanities, eventually earning a Ph.D. in Computers and English Studies. Since then, most of his career has been at the intersection of literacy, technology, and education. Through working with teachers around the country, he became familiar with their problems. As teachers are faced with decreasing resources and the pressure to continuously provide the best educational tools to their students, Darren recognized a need in the educational market for a tool like Mia Learning.
“Utilizing a voice chatbot offering AI-powered personalized book recommendations and coaching, Mia grows kids’ love of reading rather than focusing on teaching to a test,” said CEO Darren Cambridge.
Mia Learning’s secure website ensures parents are in control and privacy is sacrosanct while still offering a highly engaging conversational experience. The Club builds resistant/struggling readers’ motivation and connects more enthusiastic young readers with a steady stream of new books they wouldn’t otherwise have encountered.
Decades of research finds that improving motivation to read and increasing reading volume have more impact on kids’ reading achievement than using any instructional technique. “Other programs are myopically focused on skills,” says Dr. Kathryn Pierce of St. Louis University. “Mia is focused on building your passion for reading, being really excited about what you’re reading, understanding yourself as a reader, and how you’re growing.”
Designed with experts and grounded in recent research, Mia Learning’s software is already proving effective in schools. An evaluation funded by the National Science Foundation shows that elementary school students using Mia increased their motivation to read during the 2018-2019 school year at an annualized rate of 32%. Secret Agent Mia’s Book Club will make the same software available directly to families for the first time.
Indiegogo Campaign page: https://mialearning.com/club