This week, we had the opportunity to speak with Boaz Zaionce, COO & VP Marketing at CodeMonkey Studios Ltd – a fun and educational game-based environment where kids learn to code without any prior experience.
What is CodeMonkey?
CodeMonkey is a leading, fun and intuitive curriculum for kids to learn coding. Through game-based and project-based courses, students as young as 5 use both block-based & text-based programming to solve puzzles and build their own games and apps. CodeMonkey does not require prior coding experience to teach and is designed for school, extracurricular and home-use.
Please describe the story behind the company: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
CodeMonkey was established in 2014, during a startup accelerator program that Codemonkey took part in. The idea for CodeMonkey came to the founders years earlier though, as they were volunteering in educational programs with young children. It was there, when they were teaching kids how to code, that they realized that kids grasped the concepts much faster when they were taught in a gamified manner. That was when the idea for coding puzzles emerged and the idea stuck until the market was ready or more mature for game-based content tailored to teach kids coding.
When CodeMonkey went live it had 40 coding exercises to offer and could be offered only to a handful of clients. 7 years later, CodeMonkey is delivering its products worldwide offering 8 courses and 9 Hour of Code activities in a few coding languages, all aligned to educational standards and features a variety of teaching tools to assist both parents and teachers. In December 2018, CodeMonkey was acquired by TAL Education Group, an important milestone in CodeMonkey’s journey as it gave us certainty that our vision for kids education is sustainable and could lead to a change.
What services do you offer, and what is your target audience?
CodeMonkey is offering an online coding curriculum for K-8th Grade. With gamified coding courses, students learn the fundamentals of computer programming as they solve puzzles and build games in real coding languages such as Python. By teaching real programming from day one in a gamified environment, CodeMonkey’s coding courses place students on the path to not only learn how to code, but to develop a passion for the field. For younger students who have not yet learned to read and write, CodeMonkey offers playful block-based courses that help students develop a knack for thinking like a real computer programmer, without worrying about the messy syntax that at times comes with writing code.
CodeMonkey’s platform is suitable for both school and home use so we target schools, afterschool programs, summer camps, tutors and parents. As I mentioned earlier CodeMonkey is targeting K-8 and to be more specific, CodeMonkey’s courses are best suitable for kids ages 5-16.
What separates CodeMonkey from other similar websites/companies?
Today, coding for kids is a competitive sphere. It seems like everyday there are new coding products that are joining the Computer Science For All initiative and creating coding games for kids. This is great since it shows that coding is not going away and there is a need for it.
However, as a consumer, we know it is hard to navigate through all this noise and find the curriculum that students will get the most out of. CodeMonkey is special in that it captures and maintains student-attention levels with its engaging storyline and gamified interface. All of our courses are different from one another and support teachers along the way. Other than unique content that’s exciting for students, CodeMonkey really works!
Teachers can easily implement it in the classroom and track student progress. Since CodeMonkey has partners on a global level, we are always hearing more feedback relating to different users’ experiences and needs and adapting and perfecting the platform with innovative features.
In addition, students using CodeMonkey become accustomed to handling syntax and formal languages from the get-go (really no previous experience needed – try it yourself! CodeMonkey poses programming challenges in the form of game challenges in which the user must utilize various coding elements in order to progress in the game. Each coding task is broken down to clear and short steps that are easy to follow. The platform provides automatic feedback with personalized hints on how to fix or improve student solutions. This is unique compared to other companies in the industry.
Which trends and technologies do you find to be particularly intriguing these days?
I love technologies that truly can make a difference in our lives, from Education to space exploration, from recycling to electric cars to clean energy like the tests on fusion power that a few companies around the world are running nowadays. Each one in its own field can have a global positive impact and perhaps bring to life some of the things a 80s child growing up in the 90s saw in movies!
How do you envision the future of your industry?
CodeMonkey’s future is very bright! We are developing more courses and features to help students learn more coding languages and for teachers and parents to feel empowered to teach a subject they may have no previous experience in. I see CodeMonkey becoming the leader in the industry.
Other companies in this industry are doing a wonderful job and I believe that together, due to this “movement” of non-traditional teaching methods, the education system will start adapting and better equip our kids in order to deal with tomorrow’s challenges.