Star Tech: Coding made fun, thanks to iCodejr.com

iCodejr.com is a licenced online coding platform for students from Grades I to XIII



by

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 10:09 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Mar 2022, 10:15 PM

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, last year launched the ‘One Million Arab Coders Challenge’, which is an integral part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives (MBRGI) foundation. The initiative seeks to equip young Arabs with the tools to build their future, including making them proficient in coding and programming.

The path-breaking exercise will also provide Arabs with employment opportunities and empower them with the skills needed to contribute to the growth and development of the digital economy. And Dubai is at the heart of the digital transformation, where prizes worth more than $1 (Dh3.67) million can be won.

The inspiration

The announcement inspired brothers Hannan Moti and Abdul Khaliq Moti, who are of Indian origin, to venture into coding, and the duo launched iCodejr.com — the company is registered as Learn and Grow FZ LLC — last October.

iCodejr.com is a licenced online coding platform for students from Grades I to XIII.

Hannan oversees the growth and operations of the company in the Middle East.

Prior to setting up iCodejr.com, Hannan held various leadership positions at leading financial institutions such as JP Morgan, Barclays and most recently, Fiserv, where he served as the Asia Pacific Head of Treasury.

Hannan’s foray into the world of student coding began when he was with Fiserv and volunteered with a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, where he had to work closely with school and university students and make them understand the inner mechanisms of the corporate world.

The exercise made him realise that some of these students were interested in coding and he took time to personally train some of these students.

Soon, the word-of-mouth publicity spread and Hannan was swamped with online students not just from his native India, but from the Middle East as well.

Hannan and Abdul Khaliq saw the massive untapped potential and set up Learn and Grow in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) in October 2021.

Initially, they had 47 students in levels one and two courses.

At present, iCodejr.com has a team of 28 qualified trainers and teachers and has seen a growth of 30 per cent month-on-month in the number of students registered in their programme.

iCodejr.com aims to have 2,000 monthly students on its rolls across the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by the end of this year.

The USP

Admittedly, there are several competitors in the coding sector for children, but most of them are in English.

The bilingual offering — in English and Arabic — is iCodejr.com’s unique selling proposition (USP) and promises to be a game-changer.

iCodejr.com has launched its first hackathon for students in Dubai and plans to extend a similar exercise to other emirates such as Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. Plans are afoot to hold a couple more hackathons in other five GCC nations as well.

The company is also partnering with several technology hardware retailers to offer value additions such as coupons for their online courses as well as work with human resource (HR) departments of companies as employee benefits for their family and children.

Similarly, it aims to launch a coding course for entrepreneurs and adults under icode.ae, where they plan to partner with incubators and investors to empower business owners to upskill themselves in a rapidly changing world, where digital transformation and innovation are the only way forward.

Coding holds the key

Hannan reasoned the dire need for children to learn how to code and the emergence of coding as an indispensable skill.

“Technology touches every aspect of human life in the 21st century and reliance on it is only due to increase in the future. The internet, modes of travel, the stock markets, they all have a bedrock based on technology; the foundation of which is code.

“Learning to code not only helps one understand how technology works, but helps us develop it further and build a better future. Coding isn’t a good-to-have any more, but has become a need-to-have,” he said.

“Understanding computers and learning the basics of coding also helps children develop an appreciation of how things work. It also teaches them how software engineers use mathematics to solve problems in a logical and creative way. This is an important reason that coding should be taught in schools, so children learn these skills while they are young,” he added.

Hannan delineated the advantages of coding for children.

“It’s well-known that children absorb information faster than adults. Since coding is a clear advantage for the future of our children, it is important that they should start learning and absorbing these skills as early as they can. Children and teenagers learn by seeing, hearing, exploring, experimenting, and asking questions,” he said.

“Besides being a critical skill needed for the future, coding also offers tremendous cognitive benefits to young learners. Coding has scientifically been proven to improve problem solving skills, critical thinking skills, and enhance creativity. The ability to solve problems is a trait that is useful in life in general. We all want our children to become problem-solvers so that they can overcome any adversity. Learning to code gives children the chance to learn this type of skill while they are young and it can help them as they grow,” he added.

How to code

There has been a raging debate about what’s the best way to learn coding — individual or group learning?

“Every child responds differently to learning. While some learn best individually, some children have been known to thrive in an environment where there is friendly competition amongst other fellow students. However, most of our students prefer individual learning,” Hannan said.

The startup entrepreneur put in perspective iCodejr.com’s mission and vision.

“Our mission is to provide the best-in-class education to all our students via high quality faculty, state-of-the-art curriculum, interactive learning environment, and an affordable-by-all programme. Our vision is to empower every child with coding skills! The future as we know it, is digital. We aim to fortify every student of ours with all the necessary tech skills to be ready for the world of tomorrow,” he said.

According to Hannan, iCodejr.com has the makings of the perfect platform coding.

“There are two good reasons why we’re the perfect platform for coding, especially for children. First, we offer a customised learning path. Unlike other coding institutions, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. We evaluate students’ proficiency levels, understand their interests, to make it interesting for them and to make sure that they are just as invested in the course as their parents/guardians are, and then, based on their evaluation, we prepare a bespoke learning path tailored specifically for each student. Our second strength is that we are bilingual. This means that the student that prefers to learn in Arabic, we have the dedicated expert faculty proficient in Arabic, to help Arab-speaking students learn better,” he added.


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