How did your education and previous professional experience shape your current work at codeSpark?
Two big influences on my early thoughts about codeSpark were my educator parents and the first start-up I worked for, an interactive agency in Seattle called ZAAZ. My parents taught me the importance of curiosity and lifelong learning. At ZAAZ, I got to ride the Internet 1.0 wave and transitioned from investment banker to data-driven marketing and product professional. This experience showed me how empowering it could be to gain fluency in coding and taught me how tech works in general.
What has been the response to codeSpark from learners?
This has been the most gratifying part of our journey. Kids absolutely LOVE using codeSpark Academy and are super proud of the games and interactive stories they create. Even more importantly, they can describe what they’ve learned and why they made certain choices during the creative process. One of my favorite moments came recently when I visited a local elementary school to talk about coding. Our characters are called "Foos" and when the teacher put up the codeSpark logo on a projector, all 600 kids in the audience yelled at once, "THE FOOS!" Getting kids that excited about learning is super cool.
What broad trends do you think will have the most impact on learning in the years ahead?
We believe that coding and project-based learning will become standard parts of every core subject. For example, if you are studying the Revolutionary War, it will be increasingly natural for teachers and students to assume that digital creation will be part of the lesson.
What, if any, are future plans for codeSpark?
In the short run, we’ll be focused on expanding our creative tools to allow K-5 students to explore coding + art and coding + music. In addition, we’ll continue to build out existing modules that combine coding with game design, storytelling, and math.
In the long run, we intend to be the number one kids’ platform for digital creativity and will introduce products for Pre-K and Middle School.
Image: Courtesy Grant Hosford