Some of you will have met my nephew Elliott in previous posts – Elliott’s a loveable boy growing into a fine young man, whilst he and his family meet the challenges of his having been born with a genetic defect caused by balance translocation. He’s been through many phases and crazes and the current one – one that has stuck for longer than many before it – is Minecraft.
It’s not just Elliott – it’s everywhere! Grace has even told me that her TEACHER has created his own work in Minecraft (thus winning coolest teacher of the year award instantly).
And now Code Kingdoms, a small London-based company, have built an online learning platform for kids between 8 – 14 which teaches them how to code using Minecraft. This is an absolutely great idea, using something which is very much in vogue with children of that age range in order to engage and educate them at the same time. As Robert Prosky said in Mrs. Doubtfire, “they’d be entertained and get information”. There’s also a second Code Kingdoms project, in association with the BBC, called Micro:bit which will be released later this year, so if your kids get on with the Minecraft platform, there’s something else for them to keep them occupied and interested.
It’s incredibly important that we encourage our kids to try such things because Britain currently finds itself beginning to fall behind Europe in terms of our technical capabilities. A drop-off in numbers of IT students over the last five years has led to fewer emerging talents joining an industry that is continuing to grow – and that, in turn, has led to an increasing skills shortfall that we need to take action in order to resolve.
This is particularly important when it comes to younger girls. The UK IT industry has always been a predominantly male sector but many companies now appreciate the benefit of having a better gender balance within their office. Given that females often approach situations and problems in a different way to males, it makes sense to encourage a greater proportion of women in any workplace. In order to achieve this, we’ve got to break the preconception that computing is a “boys thing”.
Given the association with Minecraft, it shouldn’t be hard to get our kids to give Code Kingdoms’ platform a go and see if they like it. If not, no harm done but it could open new horizons for our children and, who knows, could start them down a path that ends up becoming a passion and later a career with excellent prospects – so getting them to try building on Code Kingdoms’ Minecraft platform today could help them build towards a brighter future.
This is a collaborative post