“Covid-19 finished exposing the urgent need to transform education and it did it in a massive and absolute way”, Fermín Barragán, Maate’s Co-Founder and CBO.
23 de February de 2021
23 de February de 2021
It’s possible that in the last few months you may have come across the term “parental gap”. If it doesn’t ring a bell, we’ll put it into simple words: the parental gap is the difference between those workers that, during a Zoom call, can put all their attention to the work at hand and those workers that have to be watching over their kids, making sure they get their maths done right or checking if they are ready for the online class via Teams that starts in two minutes.
If you belong to the second group, you don’t need anyone telling you how much this can affect your professional performance or to which extent the feeling of never being 100% where you are required to be can affect you psychologically.
Working parents have had to face a wave of stress and anxiety that was unleashed by the lockdowns that began last spring, which are probably responsible for having more than 60% of workers longing to go back to the office as soon as possible — as different surveys show.
In the case of teachers, the situation is especially serious. Basically, because of the lack of clear instructions, support, training and means, 93% of teachers have suffered from emotional stress.
Having everyone in mind, but especially students —who got the worst part and the least attention—, Fermín Barragán and Giselle Rontani, students at EAE’s Supply Chain Management & Logistic Master’s Degree, have set in motion their new project: Maate — a platform that offers a solution to the challenge that the pandemic brought about by transforming the learning experience through the use of digital practices, both at school and at home. As its own founders explain, it’s about independent, motivational and inspiring lessons that were created taking into account the different profiles of children and adolescents of school age.
We had a chat with Fermín Barragán, Maate’s Co-founder and CBO, to try to understand how this platform is working towards finding a solution to the collateral consequences of Covid-19 — those that are affecting parents, teachers, students and companies all across the globe.
Maate’s creators don’t have kids, but the project was born after hearing stories from friends, coworkers and family during the 2020 lockdowns in Argentina and Spain. They told us about their experiences and how complex it was for them. Parents who were able to hang on to their jobs had to adapt to working from home and all it meant — connectivity, video calls, distractions, comfortability, etc. All of this while trying to help their kids with their homework. On the other hand, kids and adolescents were suddenly having to deal with being far from their friends and classmates, having to solve homework on their own, having to spend hours on Zoom calls with teachers, getting bored and losing motivation.
In this whole context, we came up with Maate having one premise in mind: if you give 3 or 4 years old children a tablet, after 15 minutes, those children will be using it without the need of anyone teaching them how to do so. Children can spend hours playing completely on their own. We know that through personalised education, using content that adapts to each profile, that motivates and entertains while being explained in a clear manner and having the possibility to check with the teacher, students will achieve independence in their process and parents will not have to spend their time explaining, only overseeing the process.
On the other hand, we provide a communication tool for parents to easily contact teachers or headmasters and we generate reports that allow them to follow their kids performance day by day without having to wait for the next grades report or parents meeting.
Of course! Screen addiction is the challenge we have to overcome. Not just because of the time spent in front of the screen, but also because children need to stimulate those senses that can’t be stimulated by a screen yet (touch, taste, smell). For example, our platform consists of tools that allow children to play educational games which require the use of different types of materials in order to build things at home.
We know that the challenge that teachers have had to face has been enormous — not just because their working time has increased between zoom classes, meetings, planning, reports and correcting homework, but also because they have had to adapt their classes and resources to get their students to learn. Teachers have fought tooth and nail to try to create and keep a bond with their students.
At Maate, we help teachers identify the student's learning style and suggest tools to plan out the classes, create content, find the study material and create homework and exams integrating a vast amount of tools that already exist on the internet. Always paying attention to each learning style. We integrate platforms that help create interactive videos, educational games, podcasts, collaborative green boards and a huge list of etceteras.
Yes! Of course! We use data analysis and A.I. to identify the learning style, give advice to teachers, assess the student’s performance and make reports — or generate them automatically. Our goal is to be a teacher support tool and we try to solve problems by adapting to the current situation. We want teachers to be able to focus on what matters the most and save them as much time as possible with things that we know that can be automated.
We don’t think that digital education, either online or virtual, is going to become the main vehicle for learning. We are convinced that human touch is pretty much irreplaceable when it comes to creating and keeping bonds and, in turn, these bonds are what motivate learning experiences and build knowledge — something that is closely related to EAE’s Hybrid Methodology, by the way. Nowadays, teamwork is essential for any organisation. And we shouldn’t forget that schools also provide social support for children — in many cases, it’s the place where they spend many hours while their parents work. The school is where they get their meals, where they find support for their growth, where they find an environment in which to make friends, etc. In this sense, we are very aware that technology plays —and will continue to play— a very important role by helping institutions and people to carry out tasks that they couldn’t carry out before, to learn things they were not learning before.
The EdTech sector has been around for a long time now, but it wasn’t of much importance for big companies, investors, or governments. Covid-19 finished exposing the urgent need to transform education, and it did it in a massive and absolute way. Inside the EdTech ecosystem, there’s a big variety of sub sectors that tackle from very broad subjects to very specific matters. This has motivated hundreds and hundreds of startups that have started to create everything from games to learn maths or apps for kids to practice English speaking, to a device that recognises what the eye is looking at and stops children from looking at someone else’s exam.
Given this context, our main strategy —no longer in order to find our place in the market, but also to differentiate ourselves from the competition— is to think, create and develop with students and as students. We went to school and did our Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees, but our experience as students wasn’t what we would have wanted or the one that we would want for our children. We are convinced that it’s time to put focus on the students and think about what they need, what they feel, what drives them, what is enjoyable to them, what is interesting for them and what is not. But, for real… let’s not speculate and make assumptions and then decide for them — let’s just ask them. Asking and knowing how to listen is important and necessary in order to build good relationships with the people around us. By understanding their problems and worries we can find a better way of helping them.