Product Review of MAD-learn
MAD-learn is a mobile application development website where educators guide learners through the design process from start to finish. The developer’s YouTube playlist and lesson plan library will help learners learn the basics step by step, but the user interface is surprisingly intuitive. Teachers create classes to manage their learners, comment on designs, and view analytics, and users can add design collaborators from within or across schools.
For the build, learners generate ideas for design, content, and flow for their app via a mind map. In the design phase, learners choose a template or upload images for the app’s different screens (splash, home, icon, augmented reality, etc.) for both mobile devices and tablets. Here, learners customize their app’s layout by choosing themes, colors, and shapes to make it their own. The next phase, content, is where creators really dig in, adding text, buttons, and graphics and linking to other screens. Both sides of the screen contain HTML code; learners can modify what’s there or write their own commands and press the play button to see their changes reflected on a device’s screen.
Along the way, learners can preview their own and others’ apps on their devices with a unique nine-digit code. The developer didn’t leave out real-world applications, either — if learners come up with something unique, there’s an opportunity to submit their app to MAD-learn for publishing consideration.
There’s really no limit to how educators can incorporate MAD-learn into the classroom. Students can create apps for English-language arts (ELA) on characterization, or design choose-your-own-adventure applications. Engage kids in conceptualizing math activities that focus on skill development or game-based learning. In social studies, challenge learners to create virtual field trips through places with historical significance, and spend a class or two exploring the worlds they created. Or charge learners with creating a foreign language app where their peers can have fun while learning valuable conversation skills.
Encourage kids to start coding or further develop their skills by writing the code for their application, and while you’re at it, consider developing coding skills yourself. The lessons contained on the site are designed to assist any teacher wanting to implement the four C’s into their curriculum, making the development of 21st-century skills an attainable goal.
From inception to publication, MAD-learn encourages student engagement in the design process. Because learners design at their own pace, differentiation is an easy fit. The platform encourages design thinking from the start, with mind maps preceding any sort of layout or content design. This encourages learners to really think about what they’re creating and why it has value. Students will engage in creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and coding while exploring the iterative process of revision and testing.
The site’s support features coupled with teacher guidance are key: If kids get stuck on a skill, there’s likely a tutorial, blog post, or lesson that will help them get unstuck. The biggest challenge for educators will be learners who are overwhelmed by or disinterested in mobile app development. Encouraging collaboration might help here, especially if less experienced kids are grouped with peers who have a passion for coding or design.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Students who are interested in coding will likely engage from the start; others may be daunted by a steep learning curve. Teachers will need to provide relevant differentiated instruction and support for their classes.
Curriculum and Instruction
The hands-on site immerses learners in the design process and provides them with the means to learn through multiple avenues.
The developers have provided multiple avenues of support, from detailed lesson plans to FAQs to social media tips. Kids work at their own pace, so opportunities exist for beginning, intermediate, and advanced coders and designers.