Kids Learning Code in Virtual Reality

Julie Smithson The Blog

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There is never an age to stop learning and in the technology industry, that is exactly what you do – constantly learn. Being a Woman in Tech since 2010 provided me with lessons only experience and personal immersion could prepare me for.  When I had kids, I was drawn to the opportunities in education and combining that with technology became my passion.  When I learned about coding myself I knew it was something everyone needed to know about, it only made sense.

My girls took coding after I told them they had to. My oldest daughter, Abi (Top 20 Under 20, Ryerson’s Youngest DMZ Inventor) took coding 3 years ago at age 9 and still remembers the basics and can move her way through coding programs helping her build media sites for school.  My youngest daughter was one of the first to code in HTML before learning to read.  They didn’t really enjoy coding, as some do, but they didn’t need to like it, they just needed to know what it was.  They needed to understand the platform we live on. We all have mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and computers.  We download, sideload, upload and launch applications, then we have a rhythm of swiping, scrolling and texting our hearts out … all in the name of code.  

A little bit about code… it lives in computers, applications, and programs. It can build a bridge, a fort or a sequence. You can code an item, a thing, a direction, a colour, a picture, an action or a response.  Coding is built out of numbers and letters in different combinations and takes direction from the digits surrounding it.  Coding is an engineered plan of building blocks that will provide a response to its commands.  Coding has always been a very 2-Dimensional pattern on the computer screen … until now when an amazing team of companies pulled together to build a world-first, coding in virtual reality, an immersive 360° experience.

Coding in VR uses JavaScript and a visualizer to connect the theme used in a virtual space.  Phase one theme used is mammals and the code that makes them what they are. Inside the HTC Vive, you will be able to connect further into the mammals’ sequence to see a whale, cat, and dog and to visually see the corresponding picture. For our next phase, we hope to integrate a guided tutorial to teach about the similarities and well as further development into themes as we engage the students into a world they have never seen and some may not understand yet.  

Every child learns through their own set of wiring, their own medium of taking in information.  Sometimes it is auditory and sometimes it is visual.  Sometimes it is slow and sometimes it needs to be fast.  Coding in VR provides a visual plan to the sequence of a theme and seeing it in virtual reality makes the sequence easier to understand.

In celebration of Canada’s coding week, Phase one of coding in VR  has launched together with Ladies Learning Code, Primitive, House of VR & MetaVRse. On Tuesday, June 6th, local Grade 7 & 8’s in Toronto arrived at the House of VR to experience coding in virtual reality for the first time in education. The day was full of learning from the kids and for us as developers understanding how the kids experienced the program.  We are excited about the possibilities in developments to come and look forward to expanding the lessons of an educational VR curriculum into classrooms around the world.