Empowering Kids through Coding

Khairool Adzelan has been in the IT industry for 5 years now, ranging from different industry; from timber to oil and gas. He had experience working with Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation, as their webmaster. ‘“It was always about websites, a little bit of programming here and there.’’ He then advanced as the system analyst with Independent Data Services in Miri, Sarawak, until 2015 when he decided that he wanted to venture into the web design industry.

Khairool has a passion for teaching. In his previous workplace, he organized a workshop to train clerks on basic computer skills. On top of that, Khairool is a part-time tutor at Wawasan Open University.

The Conversation that Sparked It

His 7-year-old nephew came into his room while he is working on HTML, and asked him, “Why your English looks so different?’’. Khairool had to explain that it is not English, but it’s a programming language. It struck him that programming is just another language. They then spent 2 hours, teaching and building a website for the 7-year-old.

Khairool then realized that he wanted to do this, for a living. But Khairool faced the biggest challenge that all startups had to face; funding. Khairool splurged from his own pocket to start Codelab Academy, and he has zero regrets.

“I know how to teach kids, but how do I verify my ideas?’’

This question hits Khairool as soon as he started Codelab. Khairool then saw a posting on Shell CSR Programme, and he immediately applied, with the aspiration to teach kids to code. He successfully went through the boot camp and the final pitching competition, and he emerged as one of the five winners, in 2016. He received RM10,000 grant, and with that, the starting up of Codelab.

Codelab is targeting kids at the age of 8 to 17, ranging from primary and secondary schools students, focusing on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). “Codelab used programming and robotics, as a tool to solve and discover knowledge,’’ said Khairool.

Using Sphero ball, Codelab utilized the concept of ‘flipped learning’ where students become the teachers. Encouraging a holistic development of the student, Codelab also benefits students in empowering their teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.

The first lesson using the Sphero ball is to measure time, speed and distance. “By mastering this skill, they will be able to use Sphero ball for the next lessons,” said Khairool.

“In some of the session, we asked children what they want to do in the future. The previous generation has quite generic answers on their ambition, but this new generation come up with so many new professions,” said Khairool, while emphasizing that coding is an additional skill that can empower kids in the future.

Holding on to the words of John Holt, “learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the learner’s own activities,’’ Khairool believes that his teaching experience opens up to a whole new dimension for education, in the future.

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