Edna Martinson: AI and Gameplay Learning That is Both Fun and Transformational

Edna Martinson

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, back with a new guest. Edna Martinson, the co-founder of Boddle Learning, is committed to making a difference in the world of learning and edutech. Let’s see how she’s doing it!

Spiffy: It’s great to have you here with us today, Edna. What challenge is Boddle Learning addressing?

Edna: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! My Boddle Learning team and I are working to inspire learning that is both seriously fun and transformational, starting with math! The pandemic took a toll on kids' academic progress and we want to meet kids where they are in their educational journeys and use gameplay and AI to help them gain the confidence that drives comprehension. This is incredibly important especially at a time when gaps in learning are growing and kids are falling further behind.

Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?

Edna: I grew up in Ghana, West Africa, and was surrounded by some awesome tutors growing up. Having these resources outside of school really helped me become a more confident learner, and knowing how important a good education was for my life has fueled my passion to give kids of all backgrounds access to a great quality educational resource that's fun. Hearing heartwarming testimonials from teachers, parents, and especially students on how much they love learning math on Boddle and how it's changed their mindset about math is what keeps me motivated.

Spiffy: That sounds fantastic! It leads us perfectly to my next question. Can you further elaborate on how Boddle is working towards a more equitable world?

Edna: As we all know, the pandemic shifted the education system globally. Kids had to adjust to remote learning, and for a lot of kids the lack of access to remote learning resources caused them to fall further behind academically. Through our equitable freemium business model that allows kids of all demographics to utilize Boddle, we're providing access and learning opportunities in math (and more subjects soon) that are contributing to a more equitable world.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent company milestone and the impact that it makes.

Edna: At the end of 2021, we grew 2000% from 50,000 registered users to 1 million registered users. This growth has allowed us to serve teachers, students, and parents in all 50 US states, and continue to explore the growth of the platform in other countries.

Spiffy: Please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?

Edna: During the first two years of growing the company, I faced a lot of failure and "no" while trying to raise funds. It was incredibly discouraging to hear no from investor meetings early on, but knowing that I was building something of value that could have a significant impact in the education space kept me motivated. That, along with the encouragement that came from hearing teachers share how Boddle is helping them in the classroom. Continuing to push forward allowed my team and I to find incredible investors and partners like Google for Startups and Unity that truly believed in our mission and vision.

Spiffy: More power to you and your team! What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?

Edna: I've got a baby on the way (coming April 2022) and though he's not born yet, he's already teaching me a lot about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle and how simple things like drinking enough water and resting will help you perform better in other areas of your life. If I ever don't drink enough water, he definitely isn't afraid to let me know with a few belly kicks.

Spiffy: Congratulations! Sounds like he’s already looking out for his mother! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go today?

Edna: A lot of the time we get asked the question: where did the name Boddle come from? Well, we named the company Boddle after the bottle-headed characters we have in-game. As students learn, their character’s head fills up, sending that message to fill up on knowledge. The transparent nature of the Boddles highlight the importance of a child's character on the inside, and once their heads are all full, Boddles pour back out to grow fun stuff in their virtual environment. This lets kids know that with an education, they have the ability and power to change the future.

Spiffy: How imaginative and fun! Thanks for speaking with me today, Edna—it’s been an honor!

Edna Martinson is the co-founder of Boddle Learning, a gamified learning platform that helps K-6 teachers deliver engaging and adaptive math practice and assessments using gameplay and AI. Recognized in Forbes Next 1000, Edna has always been a big believer in the importance of education and a solid foundation at a young age, and this passion to help young kids succeed academically has fueled her passion for the edtech space. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 2, 2022)

© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Corner here.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and digital curriculum, with the mission to enable over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs.

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