November 5, 2015

While most of the panels and presentations at Web Summit are geared toward an audience that’s out of college and working, a few panels touched on educational technology, affectionately called edtech. We were especially interested in a Code stage presentation by by Alex Klein of Kano. Klein’s presentation spoke to the simplicity of Kano’s suite of open-source products, making the point that kids want to be able to create technology, not just consume it. To do that, they need access to appropriate tools, like Kano World or Kano Draw.

Maker tech is on the rise, and in Klein’s view, it’s our responsibility to raise kids as makers motivated by their creativity, instead of the tendency to motivate them for the sake of the career landscape. Either way, he agrees that a STEM skill set is important.

In developing the Kano Kit, an affordable toolkit for kids who want to create technology, Klein said he e-mailed a group of teachers in London, asking to meet with their students. He assembled a focus group of sorts, asking the students for their input and thoughts on on things like:

  • What they think a computer should look like
  • How they think a computer actually processes information
  • How videos get uploaded to the internet

Klein’s discovery felt like it was one of those funny, kid-focused BuzzFeed videos. Students with no maker confidence shared their guesses about the anatomy of a computer, and their guesses were powered – no pun intended – by excitement about a technology they use daily. Klein said the key to his success was that in the focus group, and in many ways with the Kato products, he framed the mission as a gamified challenge to spark critical thinking and creativity, both of which are core traits of successful makers.


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