kidOYO® was launched as an educational initiative to test the earliest ages at which kids could engage a meaningful real world entrepreneurial learning process driven by the development of skills that were rarely accessible in school-based classrooms. Our early software + manuscript set out a philosophy of kids “owning your own” learning, including the pace, interest-based progression, tools, identity, and data associated with that learning. As parents to a newly born learner, this set the context for kidOYO’s existence and growth.
Learning to embrace computational thinking, making math concepts move, bringing stories to life with interactive designs, engaging coding languages of increasing complexity, building physical prototypes with real tools, and playing with entrepreneurial ownership started almost immediately. With backgrounds in early learning product development and developmental psychology, as well as entrepreneurship and computer engineering, our founders began testing methods of instruction. These scaled into open community events, where kids and parents with similar interests came together to explore these topics.
The Mojang team, builders of Minecraft, invited our founders to share their methods with the global Minecraft community, exploring how this game was influencing young learners to engage coding by writing mods of the games source code using the Java programming language. Presentation
The kidOYO® learning platform at OYOclass.com was born, with the addition of a new founder. Immediately, our team recognized that in order for the interest being shown in our live events to scale, simple methods of scaling skills with mentor support were required. While free communities existed, and plenty of tools existed, there was a disconnect for driving continued mentor engagement and having tools that helped young learners progress with real world skills.
Based on student interest alone, there was zero reason to use marketing or Disney-style branding to attract students to the subject. Kids were already ravenously interested in the topic, and as our founders were communicating at large gamer conferences, inspiring developers to “make things so that kids can make things with the things you make”, these motivations were already well underway being served with games like Minecraft and Roblox.
Of course, based on the data being surveilled using Facebook, efforts like Code.org were launched using methods aimed at helping intimidated teachers approach the subject, and big corporate education companies started emulating the mass-market methods these traffic-based entities were in hot-pursuit of. Aptly called “pop-computing”, most of these methods were a far stretch from the learning methods that kidOYO® was using, and kids were passionately interested in. Rather than joining this National marketing push, kidOYO® focused on its local community advancing its tested methods, and achieving local results that were unprecedented.
A group of kidOYO® founding students in 6th-9th grade decided to challenge themselves to test how much “computer science” they had been learning while building their applied skills with programming. For some of the youngest, this was the first scholastic test they had ever taken, and their motivation to jump in and take the AP Computer Science A test yielded University credit for 80% of the students, including the 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grade students, with some exceptional results in the mix.
With this experience behind them, and years of K12 education ahead, these students continued to learn practical skills alongside kidOYO® mentors, bringing their personal interests to projects driven by their personal motivations. Building games to sell, apps for family businesses, exploring large open data sets and creating visualizations that helped illuminate causes of concern to them personally, and building physical computing prototypes aimed at real market opportunities set the stage for this next phase of learning.
Now, as we move towards 2020, these students are beginning to graduate and look at the University experiences in front of them with clear eyes. Some are going into University computer science programs, others are opting for computer engineering pathways or applied math, and still others are pursuing completely independent learning pathways that have nothing to do with computer science or engineering, but which leverage the skills they already possess in this domain.
That is what kidOYO® exists to serve; independent learning, self-directed. Only now, after growing in partnership with 100’s of schools in our local region of New York, is kidOYO® opening its methods to the rest of the US and World. To date, we have spent $0 on marketing or advertising. As an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit initiative, none of our existence is dependent on, or influenced by funding from grants, governments or research methodologies. Put simply, we exist because parents have made sure we exist, and we continue to grow because kids are passionate about the experience they have with kidOYO® methods. We’re proud and committed to that continuing.
No matter where you are from, kidOYO® is now an opportunity for you. We are building unique new tools and methods to increase mentor engagement, and make local opportunities available to volunteer community leaders, franchises, schools and of course parents. If you, like us, are concerned with the methods your kids learn with, and want learning opportunities unfettered from corporate methods of profiteering, prioritizing control over your personal learning process, you have come to the right place. We look forward to helping you engage your learning process....