TechCrunch reports that Khan Academy – the influential online learning portal – has now launched a new Computer Science portal. It is intended to focus on teaching children the basics of Computer Science and how to use them to program video games and websites.
When I was young, growing up in Delhi, gaining exposure to such material was for all intents and purposes impossible. Needless to say I wasn’t even aware of the existence of such a discipline being only a child. The only thing that I was aware of and understood were video games. I still remember, at the tender age of 8 or younger, an Atari salesman visiting us at home, speaking to my Dad and me later being refused a purchase while my friends at school built up a collection of games that they would later always talk about much to my envy.
My later memories are of owning a 486DX, teaching myself Basic and QBasic, playing a game that involved bananas and monkeys and trying to decipher its code to no avail. Much later consoles invaded my living room and with that was lost all hope of programming of any kind. I was reunited with programming next at the age of 19 when I went to University only to learn that all my fellow classmates had been programming from a very young age and already had solid foundations in a number of different languages and their applications.
I believe what Khan Academy is doing here is very important in, firstly, making a field that’s previously been inaccessible to children available, comprehensible and fun, and secondly, in getting children to make the fundamental shift in role from being consumers of such software to becoming producers and finally I believe their approach of using games as a medium will prove effective as it is one of the few ways to engage youngsters.
What do you think?