Who are you?
Grechen Huebner, I am co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Kodable. Kodable teaches kids ages five to ten how to code with fun games and activities to use at home and at school.
What are you doing:
To begin, the programming is symbol and logic based so kids can start playing Kodable before they can read. This also means anyone, regardless of the language they speak, can play Kodable. We created this program so kids have the opportunity to learn about technology and programming before society has the chance to influence them. Rather than feeling like computer science is something too difficult, or it is only for boys or nerds, it can be something they understand as well as math, reading, science or any other subject they learn at school.
Parents who know their kids will need to know the basics of computer science are able to give their kids a head start with Kodable. The games do all of the instruction, but we also include access to learning guides for parents who want to help, but don’t have a background in computer science or coding. These learning guides are based on our curriculum used in more than half of all U.S. schools.
When did you start?
Kodable launched in 2013. It started as an idea in college and then I partnered with my friend, Jon Mattingly, to bring our ideas to life and together we created Kodable.
Why are you innovating with this product or service:
As a teen, I enjoyed using CSS and HTML to edit my MySpace page. I would spend hours each weekend designing it to reflect my mood or favorite song of the moment. I had the chance to take a programming class at school, but I did not want to be the only girl in the class. I later regretted the decision not to take the web development class when I started to teach myself programming in college while studying communications. I wished I had learned earlier and had the courage to take the class. Eventually, I was able to support myself as a freelance web designer while I finished school. Learning to code inspired me to give kids the chance I wished I had a kid. I wanted every kid to have the opportunity to create and better their lives with skills in technology. I thought that if I had started learning about CS earlier, maybe in elementary school, perhaps I would have had the courage to take the programming class in high school and perhaps I wouldn’t have been the only girl.
Teaching kids about programming at an early age gives them the chance to decide if it is something they like before society tells them it is just for boys, or for nerds or for someone else. Our brains are still developing until we're 12 so learning to think programmatically at a young age is the best time to develop the skills kids will need in the 21st century. It is my dream that kids of all backgrounds get to learn about computer science just like they learn about math, reading, and science.
How do you do it?
Much of Kodable’s success stems from our focus on teachers. Teachers are the facilitators of all learning in a child’s life. Since the beginning, we knew teachers wanted to teach CS in their classrooms, but weren’t sure how to start. At Kodable we have two teachers on our team who ensure every feature and lesson plan is suited for the classroom. We include all the materials the teachers need to teach CS with ease, including scripted lesson plans, videos, activities, worksheets, assessment tools and more. Our goal is to build their confidence and interest in teaching CS to reach more students. Teachers are eager to share tools that their students love and that work well for them, so Kodable has grown completely organically through word of mouth between teachers, parents and kids.
We are so proud that Kodable for Students is now being used by more than 18 million students in about half of all U.S. elementary schools and in more than 190 countries. The future is computer science and we hope children of all backgrounds have the opportunity to learn valuable coding skills to benefit their future. To learn more, visit https://www.kodable.com/.