Those of you who follow me and know me, know that I have been involved in coding, making, and computer science for a few years now. I believe coding is a future-ready skill, and I know I am not the only one as it has become one of my more popular presentations at conferences. Being in that space means I was aware of the great things Tynker was doing, and I even featured them in my coding presentation. I had not however made a connection with anyone in the company.
It all changed this summer. I was presenting at AETC in Alabama, and I had the fortunate luck to meet one of their executives. He was aware of me because their community manager and I were "Twitter aware" of each other, and because of that our conversation continued into dinner.
That dinner changed my trajectory. I got to learn more about the company as a business, more about its founders, and where the company was headed. It all got me excited and hopeful that an opportunity might come down the line. I learned Tynker is a company that is successful (which is hard in ed tech), has a great product (I already thought that, but learned more), is the leader in the field (which becomes apparent when you look at their partners), but most importantly is made up of people who have the same values that I have. A couple of months after this meeting, an opportunity came knocking. Tynker was looking for people to be regionally based who could do both a mix of sales and community and thankfully they thought of me to cover the Southeast. Things progressed, and I accepted a role that I think is an excellent step in my career.
So, why did I pick Tynker? It all starts with its focus on computer science. It's evident that learning how to code is a skill that is inherently needed in the real world, and that it is a skill whose need is only going to grow. In fact, if you search the five big boys of tech job boards (Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook), you will find thousands of engineering jobs that are open. It's such a need within these companies that all of them are involved in the immigration debate because they need to reach outside the United States to fill those needs.
It also doesn't take a genius to see that businesses today have to have developers and programmers on the payroll to survive. Just this past summer we saw an iconic brand (Toys'R'Us) die because it did not move online fast enough. You can also look at a business like Delta and see the enormous need. Most people would see Delta as an airline company, but I would venture to say that programmers and developers make up a considerable percentage of their workforce. Think about it. They have to have someone program their app, someone program their website, someone program and repair the computer parts on their planes, and most importantly someone who programs and fixes their reservation system. Without one of them their business halts.
With this changing world, states, districts, and schools are starting to realize the importance of teaching programming. Almost every state is in the process of adopting standards (just this year I saw two friends sit on committees in California and Kentucky), and most states have adjusted graduation requirements to include computer science as a possibility. The issue though is that there are very few teachers who are trained as programmers, and so they need GREAT TOOLS. Tynker fills that need perfectly.
There are several coding solutions out there, but Tynker is one of the only ones that approach programming from an educators mindset and with pedagogy leading the way. The whole idea of Tynker is to get programming into core classes, make it as easy as possible for the teacher, and most importantly get students into the ideal learning situation: STUDENT CREATION.
Computer Science is just like a world language: the younger you start, the better off you will be. It also takes practice. To get kids both, we have to be able to include computer science not just in a specialty class but also in core classes. Tynker is the only platform that makes this possible. Within the platform, there are coding lessons that teachers can assign in Math, Science, Social Studies, and ELA. They allow a teacher with no coding experience to both teach to the needed standards and include this all-important future skill. It makes Tynker a go-to platform for not only this future skill, but it also can be a go-to platform to teach content.
As a teacher, you can also use Tynker as a creation platform. Creation is the idea that we should all be striving to, and by using Tynker, we are also teaching students future ready skill. I know in my time as a teacher having an animation platform was so important. It allowed students who did not want to be on camera for any reason to still have a platform to tell their story and share their voice. Tynker can be that platform, and there are some great lessons to teach kids the skills they need to make those stories their own. Tynker also allows students to create slideshows, music, drawings, games, apps, and much more. You can't go wrong with a platform that teaches future skills while letting students create.
I think the classroom benefit is the main reason to use Tynker, but it also always helps to have a platform that is easy to use. From a teachers perspective, all you have to do is pick the right lessons and assign them. It allows you to set up classes to get those lessons out quickly, and it is the only coding platform that connects easily with LMS systems like Google Classroom. It also gives you great data to analyze and make those instructional decisions that matter.
From a student perspective, you can also see the care that went into the user experience. Many platforms require students to dig and find the things they need. They require multiple clicks, and they lack some of the instruction students need to get started. Tynker has lessons that get kids easily started, it cuts down on clicks to find commands, and it has little shortcuts here and there that make it easy to teach and use. Basically, it's easy to see that educator feedback built the user experience rather than what came out of a programmers brain.
As you can tell, I am excited about this change because I believe in the product. We need great platforms that teach students computer science, and this one not only does that, but it also makes student creation the heart of its mission. Ever since my days in the classroom, that's what I thought it should be about.
This change in my life is so exciting, but any change is also a little bittersweet. It's a change I need to make for a multitude of reasons, but it also means I have to leave the incredible team at KSU iTeach. I have spent four years of my life with iTeach, and I would not even be close to ready for my new role if iTeach had not given me the room to grow and learn. I can't thank my boss, Stephanee Stephens, enough for the encouragement, love, and respect she has given me over the years. Stephanee is like a sister to me, and I know that friendship will continue to grow whether I am at iTeach or not. If you are looking for some great instructional coaching especially focused on personalized learning, I don't think there is a better group you can call.
If this post has sparked interest in Tynker, don't hesitate to reach out. I would love to chat about bringing coding to your school or district.