How a coding education startup got off the ground

November 21, 2018 11:32
Harris Chan, CEO & co-founder of Cobo Academy, aims to develop children's critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills with his coding school. Photo: HKEJ

With an aim to transform traditional education, Cobo Academy, a Hong Kong-based startup co-founded by ex-Microsoft engineer Harris Chan, plans to provide children with early exposure to coding and robotics knowledge.

"Digital education in Hong Kong is very rigid, and children don’t have enough room for thinking and exploring new things,” Chan told the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Such thought inspired him to co-establish an educational business to “empower children to become future ready” with STEM and coding education, he said in an interview.

Featured with regular courses, private sessions, and holiday camps, Cobo’s curriculum focuses on coding, robotics, as well as web and mobile applications design.

The programming class features a block-based coding interface designed to teach students the basics, according to Chan. And the company offers a “Micro:bit” platform, to which the computing programs written by students will be transferred to.

Chan, former director of central marketing organization at Microsoft Hong Kong, said there is currently no curriculum framework for reference in STEM or programming education in Hong Kong, and he that believes Israel’s STEM curriculum is worth learning.

“Their coding courses are not focused in teaching ‘hard skills,’ but the creativity and problem-solving ability,” he noted.

"Cobo Academy goes beyond just a coding school to develop children's critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills," Chan said.

"Traditional schools [in Hong Kong] do not have teachers dedicated to STEM or programming education,” he said. Besides, he pointed out the observation that many parents in the city think learning programming skills, somewhat similar to e-sports, is “meaningless” for their children.

“Programming language can be the next universal language,” Chan argued. "Why can't it be officially recognized as a language ability in the education system?”

The full article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 21

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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