Feature: Kandu – Programming without Coding

K_smallerCoding and programming continue to receive a lot of attention in the education arena, with many curriculum structures around the world recognising the role of technology in the future; exploring the skills which will be required to ensure students are well prepared. These skills are not for everyone, as some skills will be too arduous for some to grasp. However, the fundamentals behind coding remain critical offering problem solving, language, mathematical and creativity opportunities.

[pullquote]Learn about the overall structure of coding by developing their own games or animated pictures directly on the iPad[/pullquote]It is evident that mobile and tablet computing is becoming increasingly popular, with iPads leading the way, so David Bennahum and Gerry Laybourne have created an iPad app to make computer programming as accessible as it’s ever been. Students can now learn about the overall structure of coding by developing their own games or animated pictures directly on the iPad, with no coding obstacles in the way. Although the app doesn’t teach programming languages, it does show the fundamentals of object-oriented programming where different classes of actions and attributes are applied to images and concepts.

In an exclusive interview with UKEdChat, David Bennahum told us:

I have always felt, philosophically, that experience of mastery over computers is more elusive as technology has become more advanced, because of the complexity of machines now. It has become impossible for any single person to understand deeply how they work. With that comes a loss of digital literacy and understanding of computational theory which is very relevant to being more than just a consumer in today’s society.

The creation of software remains incredibly elusive. Only a few small priesthood of programmers worldwide remain capable of making content, and it strikes me that it is fundamentally wrong that only 1% of the world can make the stuff that we all use. For most people, the concept of making your own software is elusive for a person who is a mature adult, let alone for a child.

The launch of the iPad was a pivotal moment for Bennahum, who though the portability and touchscreen nature of the tablet was superior to anything on the market so went about creating an app based on the satirical nature of the UK magazine Punch. It wasn’t until a chance meeting with the former Chair and CEO of Nickelodeon, Geraldine Laybourne, that the notion of Kandu was formed.

Gerladine has a philosophy around kids, in that always put kids first and never talk down to them. Through entertainment, connect kids to each other and their world. She felt that technology had not completed that mission and technology offered a chance to get that done. It was a meeting of minds.

2 BehaveiorThe team were able to approach Betaworks, who saw the opportunity of Kandu, which allows children to develop their own games through touch-media, without getting bogged down with coding languages which allow them to do it.

Tested with teachers and children in New York, Kandu offered a smoother learning curve, getting results on the screen that are rewarding.

Kandu does give you skills, and I think of it as computational theory, but in the framework of fun and play. Kandu exposes all the challenges of software architecture right up front. All the formulations of software creation up front, and it does it in a tactile, emotional way.

The app should appeal to everyone, not being designed specifically for a child or adult audience. Professional game developers have used Kandu to sketch a game, taking 20 minutes rather than 2 days of coding. The developers maintain that once users have grasped the concepts and ideas behind the app, learning and understanding coding systems like Javascript etc., should be a lot easier as the visualisation element of the app make these concepts easier to understand.

UKEdChat has managed to gain exclusive access to this iPad app for the first 50 readers who click this link (MUST BE OPENED ON iPAD). You will be prompted for credentials – enter your email address and the password “kedchat” to get the app. You will then download the app from there. The link will not work once the 50 allocated codes have been used.

To listen to David Bennahum speaking to UKEdChat, click on the mp3 episodes below:

See David presenting the app, and explaining the power behind the development at the New York Tech MeetUp:

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About UKEdChat Editorial 3187 Articles
The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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