Published: 24th April 2019
Teach your child to code with WhiteHat Jr, an online platform that makes coding easy and fun
Karan Bajaj, founder of WhiteHat Jr tells us why learning to code is crucial in the post-computer revolution era
It has been a matter of debate whether children should be taught coding or not. While not every child might aspire to become a software engineer, Karan Bajaj believes that coding is a skill that is crucial for every child to survive in the post-computer revolution era. This led Bajaj, the former CEO of Discovery India to establish WhiteHat Jr, an online platform that teaches coding to children at their level. He tells us more about the platform and how it can help children learn essential skills. Excerpts...
Why did you see a need for children to learn coding?
There were two kinds of convergent forces that came together. One was that I read a fair amount of what happened with Mathematics in the industrial revolution. Prior to that, mathematics was taught only in 5 per cent of the schools. Post that, it became a core part of every curriculum. My thesis was that the same thing would happen to coding in the computer revolution era. The whole world is going to be gripped by technology. But there is no coding pedagogy for early childhood. So I saw a great opportunity here. The second reason was that MIT had done research on early childhood coding and they saw that the there was a major transformation in kids who went through early childhood coding, there was 75 per cent improvement in logic and very significant improvement in concentration. They became creators. That very fundamental change in thinking from consumer to creator is what coding did for children. I was co-relating it to my own life. After I wrote my first novel, I became more creative, launched a startup, took a year out, did a lot more than I ever did. With coding, the same shift that happened to me very late in life could happen very early in kids. And that could be like a complete unleash of their potential.
Moving ahead: Karan's thesis is that coding in the post-computer revolution era will become as important as mathematics was in the post-industrial revolution era
2. How does White Hat Jr cater to that?
We are the first structured coding curriculum in the world. It's a curriculum for kids aged 6-14. It's a live online classroom. There's a student on one end and a teacher on the other end. Each session runs for 40 minutes. In the first five minutes, the teacher explains the concept. For the remainder of the time, the student takes over and creates the game. We also ensure that the teachers are trained.
3. Do you run the programme in cooperation with schools?
We don't go through schools. It's strictly for kids who register. There is nothing physical about our structure. We hire teachers online as well.
4. How do you make coding understandable to kids?
It's all about building stuff. Kids create games, animations and apps in class. They learn the fundamentals of logic and sequence necessary to create outcomes. So they love the course. You learn different aspects of coding and see magic happen.
5. How many kids have registered so far?
About 50,000 students have registered across India. And we have about 1000 sessions a day. It's 48 classes that run for about three to six months.
6. How successful has the programme been so far.
Well, we've had kids as young as nine design apps that are available on the App Store completely on their own. That's how we measure our impact. We have less than 0.6 per cent drop out of the platform.
8. How did your experience as CEO of Discovery India help with this venture?
Discovery is also very mission-driven and education-driven. You learn a lot about the world of kids.