Kano: Coding The Next Generation

Sarah Doyle

Intern

The world has become more digital than analogue. It used to be the case that children were expected to learn a second language such as French or Spanish to set them up for their future careers. Now, that second language has become computer code. Getting children to code early does not only help them when they enter the workforce. It also helps to develop their cognitive skills and teach them how to problem solve. Getting children involved, and interested, early relies on having a good Design. Kano is one company that is leading this field.

Illustration representing child coding using the Kano system

Kano’s Computer Kit Touch

Kano was founded in 2012 with the aim of supplying computer kits that could be built by children (of all ages). These products are designed to drive engagement with the children who use them. On a visual level the kits are designed with bright colours and transparent plastic casting which shows the inner workings of the computers. This encourages the child’s curiosity and awareness. These are further encouraged by the way the kits are designed to be put together.  For example, Kano’s Computer Kit Touch gets the children to first build the hardware before having to write the code to operate the system. Designing toys with this ‘hands-on philosophy’ really triggers children to question and understand how things are made.

How does it work?

When a child opens their computer kit from Kano they will see a number of items:

The instructions are designed as a ‘storybook’, rather than the dry instruction manuals we as adults are used to. It uses an engaging narrative making the process easier for the children throughout the building of the computer. It also gives them greater understanding of how everything works together, increasing their knowledge on how computers work. Once the hardware is built the child can turn to the software.

Kano uses an educational coding software which starts with basic block coding. The children drag commands on a graphical interface which helps to teach coding languages such as JavaScript and Python. With this coding knowledge, Kano’s Operating System lets children make their own apps, games and music. It also allows them to download mainstream apps off Kano’s own app store. The young coders can upload their own creations to Kano’s Creations to share and teach others the code they have learned. As a whole, the Kano system is designed to encourage children to be creative and to share their new-found knowledge and skills.

Why Should We Be Introducing Coding To Children?

With the world getting more digital, we should definitely be introducing children, and teaching them how, to code. It is not inconceivable that the most used language in the world within the next decade will be computer code of one form or another. While it might be hard to imagine children grasping something so complex, well designed and engaging toys from companies like Kano have made learning digestible and fun. Similar to learning a language or craft, coding allows children to express themselves and become more creative. Kano is designed to encourage children to feel this way, and not make coding a chore. As Kano creative director Aaron Hinchion said:

“When people go into code, they don’t go in thinking, ‘I want to code’, they go in thinking ‘I want to make a game’ or ‘I want to make this drawing’.”

It creates a message to children that they can create anything from nothing if they just work on it.

At Graphic Mint we are always looking at ways to make technology more accessible to everyone, whether it is through Usability Testing or through User Experience Design. Contact us today to begin our journey together.