Empowering Visually Impaired Students with Tactile Coding

At the Devnar School for the Blind in Hyderabad, a group of seven students eagerly anticipates the opportunity to delve into the world of coding even after completing their board exams. Thanks to the innovative efforts of Next Skills 360, a start-up focused on creating educational tools, these students will have their first encounter with coding using a ground-breaking cardboard-based tactile coding kit.

The tactile coding kit, which features Braille script along with English, is an enhanced version of Next Skills 360’s ProGame, a coding kit previously utilized in numerous schools across the country. This new kit is designed to improve coding skills in students from government schools, including those who may have limited access to quality education in subjects like mathematics and science. By introducing foundational coding techniques, Next Skills 360 aims to foster logical thinking and problem-solving abilities in these students.

What sets this coding kit apart is its simplicity. Students do not need to learn complex coding syntax or worry about making errors that could disrupt an entire program. Instead, they use cardboard blocks to arrange logical sequences, which are then scanned using a mobile phone to generate an output. For instance, arranging blocks depicting a cat, a beach, and a circle in a specific sequence could generate a video clip showing a cat drawing a circle on the beach.

To ensure widespread access to coding skills, Next Skills 360 has trained over 10,000 teachers to utilize their app and teach students coding. In partnership with the Asifabad district of Telangana, the start-up successfully introduced the foundation level of coding to approximately 34,000 students across 250 schools. Plans are already underway to introduce the second level of coding in the upcoming academic year.

Beyond coding education, Next Skills 360 aims to empower children in underserved communities by teaching them essential life skills, including protection against child abuse and coping with peer pressure. To support these efforts, the start-up is developing a specialized kit for visually impaired students, prioritizing their unique needs. Once the kit has been thoroughly tested, it will be made available to all students, further promoting inclusivity in the field of coding education.

Recognized for their groundbreaking work, Suraj Meiyur and his wife, Sowjanya, have received the prestigious MIT Solve fellowship. Leveraging the Scratch platform, an exclusive coding community for kids developed by MIT, the couple is building their coding kit for school students. With a strong focus on innovation and equity, Next Skills 360 is currently a bootstrapped start-up, but plans to pursue fundraising opportunities by the end of the year to expand its operations and reach even more students in need.

By embracing tactile coding and providing accessible learning tools, Next Skills 360 is empowering visually impaired students and underserved communities, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to explore the world of coding, build problem-solving skills, and unlock their full potential.

FAQ Section:

1. What is the purpose of the Next Skills 360’s tactile coding kit?
– The purpose of the Next Skills 360’s tactile coding kit is to improve coding skills in students from government schools, including those who may have limited access to quality education in subjects like mathematics and science. It aims to foster logical thinking and problem-solving abilities in these students.

2. How does the tactile coding kit work?
– The tactile coding kit uses cardboard blocks to arrange logical sequences, which are then scanned using a mobile phone to generate an output. Students do not need to learn complex coding syntax or worry about making errors that could disrupt an entire program.

3. How many teachers have been trained to use Next Skills 360’s app for teaching coding?
– Next Skills 360 has trained over 10,000 teachers to utilize their app and teach students coding.

4. How many students were introduced to the foundation level of coding through Next Skills 360’s partnership with the Asifabad district of Telangana?
– Approximately 34,000 students across 250 schools were introduced to the foundation level of coding through Next Skills 360’s partnership with the Asifabad district of Telangana.

5. What other life skills does Next Skills 360 aim to teach children in underserved communities?
– Next Skills 360 aims to teach children in underserved communities essential life skills, including protection against child abuse and coping with peer pressure.

6. What recognition has Suraj Meiyur and his wife received for their work?
– Suraj Meiyur and his wife, Sowjanya, have received the prestigious MIT Solve fellowship for their groundbreaking work.

Key Terms/Jargon:

1. Tactile coding: A method of coding that uses physical objects, such as cardboard blocks, to represent and arrange logical sequences, allowing students to learn coding without complex syntax.

2. Braille script: A system of raised dots that can be felt with the fingertips, used by people with visual impairments to read and write.

3. Bootstrapped start-up: A start-up that is self-funded and operates with minimal external investment.

Related Links:

To learn more about Next Skills 360 and their innovative educational tools, visit their official website: Next Skills 360