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.

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.

I lost my soccer ball on Moon

Copyright: wikimedia commons public domain
Img Copyright: Wikimedia commons public domain

This weeks stretch assignment–create a simple Game on Scratch. This game exploits the sound pollution in our house-hold to control the ball lost on moon.

Happy playing…just make sure your device has microphone support and Adobe Flash plugin support in your web browser.

Come join C2PKids Club of Charlotte to get skilled.

“Digital Lemonade”– Next time coach your kids to sell some.

Image Copyright information : Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-0701-502 / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons

Image Copyright information : Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-2004-0701-502 / CC-BY-SA [CC-BY-SA-3.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons

Like every summer, I had few sightings of Kids Lemonade Stand this year too. The parental psyche around getting their kids inspired to take up this favorite American summer activity is all too consistent. Parents want their kids to get out and learn some essential entrepreneurial skills by way of selling lemonade. And let’s not underestimate skills learned in this traditional summer activity-it teaches you the essence of all the courses that you might have taken in your pricey Ivy league MBA. Selling lemonade after all requires kids to plan & mobilize their friends into teams, source raw materials cheaply(commodities–sugar, water, limes, cups etc), manufacture and process raw materials into final product, decide on 3 P’s (Product, Price, Place), work on advertising campaign to attract its target consumers and finally endure the scorching heat to execute their plan–end to end and come with some profits. Indeed, one could argue this activity actually teaches life skills of perseverance, working with teams, dealing with failures and enjoying the pleasure of few hard earned bucks.

Now I have no quantitative evidence( and data) to back my claim but I have a simple hypothesis that this summer, we probably had lesser Kids Lemonade Stands compared to last year and in coming years they will become more and more extinct. Verifying my claim could be great Freakonomics project. But my claim is based on the on simple argumentation that this summer Kids had yet more avenues of consuming Digital Lemonade all while sipping real bottled lemonade loaded with high fructose corn syrup.

Realize that our kids are consuming a very addictive form of Digital Lemonade. This Digital Lemonade is delivered to them in very interesting form factors like online games, some silly and some useful mobile apps, Skype Chat or Google Hangout sessions, Vine, SnapChat etc. Parents too were consuming the same Digital Lemonade and had difficulty inspiring the traditional summer activity of teaching kids essential life skills by way of selling lemonade.

So why not we all take cue from this digital consumption behaviors of our kids and try revive this traditional idea in decline–but with a new spin. Like real lemonade stand, Digital Lemonade requires same planning, team and execution skill sets. Your AppStore is stand for your Digital Lemonade. You still need to think of 3P’s but very differently–Place becomes Internet, Product becomes anything that can entertain, educate, inform or add any other commercial/community value and Price becomes free but you may earn money from ad clicks. Selling Digital Lemonade will still need socialization strategy via social platforms versus traditional advertising strategy. Raw materials needed for Digital Lemonade as commodity as raw materials of needed for making real lemonade. Almost all offerings from AWS compute and storage services has free tier & can allow for your kids Digital Lemonade shop run for free. You need man-power? that’s available for cheap or free price too–just go to Amazon Mechanical Turk or other Crowd-sourcing platforms.

In short, selling Digital Lemonade is wiser idea and it teaches all the skills that selling real lemonade teaches and goes beyond to teach real skills needed for finding place in, surviving & thriving in digital economy.

Want to teach your kids how to sell Digital Lemonade ? Come join C2P Kids movement .