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IIT-Madras aims to teach children coding via Gamified Coding Platform HackerKid

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras incubated startup ‘GUVI’ has developed India’s first ‘Gamified Coding Platform’ called ‘HackerKID’, which aims to teach coding for kids using a game-based environment, the institute said on Wednesday.

The startup worked with more than 1,200 kids from the Netherlands, the US, Australia and India while developing the product features and designs for HackerKID. The children are introduced to ‘Block-Based Programming’ in HackerKID and provided with a virtual playground to practice challenges. Block-based Programming is an easy and powerful way to develop software.

The ‘drag and drop’ of blocks or chunks of coding instructions make it simpler for kids when compared to conventional classroom teaching, to learn the foundations of programming flow and computational thinking.

The beginner’s level of ‘Turtle Module’ is being offered free of cost and features points, rewards, badges for each activity in block-based programming and showcases the kid’s creativity to fellow learners through a leaderboard. The ‘Turtle’ module prepares kids for the ‘International Block Coding Olympiad’ which is scheduled to be held shortly.

“HackerKID is the first product launched in India as a platform for extensive coding practice utilizing block-based programming with a game-based environment specially designed for kids, where coding is fun,” S.P. Balamurugan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, GUVI, said in a statement.

According to the team, unlike the traditional text-based coding classroom approach, the gaming style with the ‘play-to-code’ method would enable children to master the flow in programming.

The ‘Challenges’ segment enables kids to create and share problems with fellow learners to solve. Whether to be an individual performer or an active group member is a choice made by the student. As the modules are aligned with the academic curriculum for grades, it is easy for the kids to relate what they learn with what they play.

“By practising in HackerKID, children can understand the coding world in a better way by attaining skills such as problem-solving, creative thinking, persistence, communication and collaboration,” said Arun Prakash, Founder and Chief Technical Officer, GUVI.

The illustrations, UX design, and experience has been developed along with kids themselves, which makes them love the product. More than 20 new features involving languages such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript are in cooking and will be launched soon, the institute said.