Why HMTL5, CSS & Java Script are great introductory languages for c2pKids?

Image credit: GitHub

Image credit: GitHub

From a humble start last week to an overwhelming response from ten’s of parent’s from schools across Charlotte area & from ones outside of Charlotte  –thanks to power of social media and internet. And thanks to all those parents and friends who called me last week with words of encouragement & connecting with interests in creating “technology producer kids”.

A common question I am being asked is why these 3 languages to begin with for kids of age group 10-15 yrs, will these languages be intellectually intense for younger kids and are they really as fun as learning Sctarch ( or some other equivalents)?

I will try to answer some of these questions via this post.

2-3 decades ago: Era of making your PC do something fun for you.
Kids from 2-3 decades ago would have started with languages such as Fortan, Pascal , Basic or yet more intense C/C++. I started with Pascal then moved on C/C++ and later Visual Basic. Until I moved to Visual Basic, programming was hardly fun. And I could hardly appreciate writing math programs that took so long to write that I would not get the intuition of why make my computer do that instead of using my calculator. Visual Basic was visual and it kicked in my interest quotient higher. Its only after much later I realized that learning those non-fun languages developed my logic and skills to understand how to make computer do much more advanced stuff. But all in all 2-3 decades ago–it was about programming that isolated PC in front of you. The journey from learning to program to one of having fun with programming and finally producing of something value was long one.

Present day:  Era of making Internet & all things (Devices & People) connected to Internet do something fun for you.
Fast forward to present day. We are surrounded by connected and now wearable devices. All of these devices have one thing in common–they understand the triad of HTML5, CSS and Java Script. These languages are fairly simple to get introduced and quickly start to have fun with. There are Java Script libraries to build games, create animations (Disney-grade) & ones to make Google do lots of interesting things for you. So journey from introductory learning to having fun to being a producer of something useful is very fast.

Hope this answers some of parental curiosity–if not then please drop me a note.

Humble Start for C2PKids Batch-1

C2PKids Learner Batch-1–started on Sept 14th. It was a humble beginning for Batch 1. Humble it was for sure , as it started with two Kids and it was hardly local—with one learner from Illinois and other from Charlotte. Getting Batch 1 started challenged my resolve in c2pkids.org. As I drove every morning to drop my kid to school, I saw c2pkids.org competing for attention from variety of commercial After School Programs–soccer, base-ball, music, karate classes. Some of these clubs promised to find the next A Rod, some next Bach, next Messi  —-here I am driving by thinking about how to convince Parents about c2pkids idea to help find them next Steve Jobs in their children or worst help them find the next high paying job.
Batch-1 started with logistics challenges (Skype Versus Google Hangout), shaking video feeds and we all trying to find the rhythm to get Batch-1 inspired. Well we finally found this rhythm when Batch-1 members watched an inspiring video (below) about a 12 year old App Developer –A True Producer Kid.
All in all–a humble start, some logistical challenges, warm-ups / intro’s, concepts of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Plan for next week and early dismissal ….

TED Weekends: Gaming for life

I have new found appreciation for skills and mental makeup of our Gamer generation kids after watching this TED Talk. The core idea of C2PKids movement after all was about turning “technology consuming kids” into “technology producing kids” by providing them new skills to produce technology for others—games, apps, etc. I did not take into account that they brought some unique mental resilience skills developed as part being avid gamers. Don’t have stats to back up but a large portion of kids technology consumption is all about Games. We carry so much bias around online games playing kids— violence, obesity, sleep disorders etc. This TED talk brings totally different point of views–worth reflecting on.

TED Blog

The old and tired stereotype: a 20-something man sits on the couch in his parent’s basement, his shirt untucked and chin unshaven, as he excitedly pounds the buttons on a video game controller rather than getting a job. The obvious truth: video game enthusiasts are men and women, of all ages, and the grand majority of them are highly productive members of society. In fact, video games can actually help people grow — both socially and psychologically.

This is the idea that video game designer Jane McGonigal addresses in her TED Talk, “The game that can give you 10 extra years of life.” [ted_talkteaser id=1501]In the talk, McGonigal shares her game SuperBetter — designed after being bedridden for a long period of time following a severe concussion — which aims to help people recovering from injuries and surgeries find connection with others and with their inner sense of…

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Nike + API + Ideas from Kids = A great C2PKids project !

I had been stumbling upon Nike + Platform articles/buzz on the web but never really evaluated it details. I was researching for this weeks post on all things digital happening in and around kids and I stumbled about this GeekWire Post. Its a very interesting and evolving space where multiple worlds are colliding. A physical brand–Nike venturing into Digital world and now suddenly becoming a Platform Company and investing into building API around its platform. Now that itself is a great case study mimicking all the discussion around Amazon becoming a cloud company. After all,most retail minds think of Amazon as a Internet retail company or a media company or now a publisher (after acquiring Washington Post).

The other important collision is between consumption of calories with consumption of technology. Nike is apparently creating  new kinds of “connected devices” which are wearable and targeted to inspire adults and kids alike to get them into living an active lifestyle. So the core idea is you combat problem of over-consumption of calories by throwing in more consumption technology—in the bargain more profits for Nike shareholders. Our Gen Y  kids will undoubtedly be great early adopters.

How all this plays out and what good/bad impacts it creates on kids and their parents is yet to be seen.

Nevertheless, these wearable devices with their noble goals will find acceptance in homes, school campuses, school buses and they will soon start creating very different and interesting kinds of data-sets stored (securely 🙂 ) on Nike’s Cloud Platform. Nike + API will make that data and platform accessible using existing simple Web API technologies giving birth to new apps-rush to this new space.

A different customer mindset/psyche + ingenuity blended with Gamification will be needed to build content and apps for Nike+Platform. Needless to say a great opportunity awaits for technology producers.  Our Gen Y kids already knows Gamification –thanks to their games consumption. Only if they had Web and API skills, then they can be part of producing for Nike’s platform.

Nike is trying to launch and seed an Eco-system of technology companies via Nike+Accelerator program to produce content and apps. There is a strong economic opportunity (for entrepreneurship and app developers)  waiting if Nike’s platform takes off. The world after all is getting more obese . So the case in trying to get the over-consuming world to shed some pounds and in bargain gain some economic calories by way of producing apps for Nike Platform is strong.

Are you stalking your kids using Technology?

Image Source: Wikipedia creative commons (public domain)

C2PKids Movement may very well be an equivalent of providing your kids weapons against all those Digital Parents who use the same technology to stalk their kids online. However, that’s not a sound argument to keep your kids digitally ignorant and in fact more exposed to some of the bad things we all worry about. Code-awareness definitely improves your ability to dodge online booby traps camouflaged in various form-factors (benign looking link, email attachment, game, video or free music download)

I had been long reflecting about effects of making kids code-aware of the technology that they consume—finally decided to blog about my PoV on this topic. My personal two cents are that latest best practices around digital parenting are hardly about “restriction” using parental controls but more about creating conversations. I think most of us have realized that restriction is impossible –so why not join them and have a conversation :). For digitally savvy and educated parents its all about discussing the new opportunities that technology is creating for them in context of new risks & bad temptations that kids are faced to judge about. After all, the idea of future school administrators scanning your cyber-profile before offering you admission in your coveted school is fairly recent one. That the idea of online reputation being as critical asset as your credit score is probably what the latest conversation all about and we need to have that with our kids. Virus attacking and destroying my child’s cheap laptop hardly bothers me. Online bullying (where your kid is a target or where your child is a source), stealing personal information, kids posting something that they later regret are the hot-topics.

Here is a great resource from GreatSchools.org. This has some really nice and summarized list of additional resources for both digitally savvy and digitally ignorant parents. Read through it–they have done a great job and most of my digital parenting wisdom is influenced from their work.