We came across iDEA in 2020, during the first national coronavirus lockdown. It was suggested by Harry's school as part of his remote learning provision, and after investigating the many badges and resources on offer, he shared the link with Anna so that we could work on our awards together.
As everyone reading this can most likely recall, much of the world was rather bleak at the time: businesses were forced to close, many employees were furloughed and millions lost their lives to the pandemic.
One of the few positives of being confined to the indoors was the opportunity to learn new skills, and iDEA enabled precisely that. Both of us were already interested in technology, so we found iDEA's certificates the perfect goal to work towards, and the fact that there were so many engaging and varied badges on offer really motivated us.
We particularly like how iDEA teaches such a vast array of useful, relevant skills, and completing a certificate involves exploring each of the different categories of badges available (Citizen, Worker, Maker and Entrepreneur), covering everything from ethics to advertising.
These are all really important areas to learn more about, although often it can be quite intimidating and difficult to know where to start. Luckily with iDEA that isn’t the case at all. All of the badges are presented in a clear to understand, fun, and accessible way - this makes working towards the award so much more enjoyable, and it also demonstrates how it is attainable for everyone willing to put in the effort no matter their age or background.
One badge we particularly like is "Digital Ethics", especially in the light of current advancements with AI and machine learning. As with many badges on iDEA, it provides a high-level overview of a topic, giving learners the opportunity for further exploration - in fact, Harry is now completing an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) on the subject of bias in AI.
We like to think of Mission Encodeable as the coolest way to code - essentially, we've created lots of free, engaging, project-based coding tutorials that students will hopefully find really interesting and fun. We’ve used our perspective as students to write our tutorials, and we believe that this has helped to provide us with lots of invaluable insights as to which concepts students might struggle to understand and how we can help to explain them better. Of course, we’ve also taken care to ensure that all of our tutorials are accurate and comprehensively cover the concepts they cover.
Our tutorials are broken down into a series of carefully scaffolded levels, and each level introduces new skills, while reinforcing content learnt in previous levels. Together, these levels make up a course that takes students from having no knowledge of coding or Python, to being able to create their own projects and tackle any GCSE standard coding question. The levels themselves are made up of text-based steps, with projects interspersed between them. We believe that these projects really make Mission Encodeable unique, and have tried to make them interesting and engaging, but ensure that all the skills students need are covered. Hopefully, students will enjoy making these projects, allowing them to become better and more confident programmers.
As you've probably already guessed, we both really enjoy coding and computer science. Unfortunately though, we're definitely in the minority of students, with many of our friends finding computing boring and irrelevant. And to be honest, we think that they aren't to blame for this! Instead, we believe that the lack of engaging projects in lessons causes students to switch off instantly and start thinking about their lunch.
We wanted to change that. Not just because it's rather demoralising to hear people call your favourite subject "weird and boring", but also because we think that computer science is a really important field, with lots of real-world, creative applications.
So, around two years ago, we decided to create Mission Encodeable and vowed that it would be different from the boring coding tutorials that our peers hated. When writing our tutorials, we packed them with relatable, engaging projects, while making sure that all the key programming fundamentals were covered and reinforced throughout our levels.
We also wanted our tutorials to be accessible for all - it's really annoying to discover a cool resource, but then find that it's really expensive, has lots of distracting ads, or requires lots of additional software! That's why Mission Encodeable is browser-based, has no pesky adverts and is completely free.
In the future, we hope that Mission Encodeable will become known as the best place to learn to code, and that many people and schools across the world will be using it to teach programming in a fun, engaging and interesting way.
To achieve this grand goal, we have several other aims that we'd like to work towards.
We're always looking to improve Mission Encodeable, and one of the ways we're hoping to do that in the near future is through working with "pilot schools", who can trial new features of Mission Encodeable and give us valuable feedback from both the student and teacher perspective.
Something else we're keen to do is extend what Mission Encodeable offers for students and teachers. At the moment, we're developing a C# course and will shortly begin work on some additional Python tutorials, as well as aiming to produce lots of free resources for teachers.
As for the wider impacts of Mission Encodeable, we hope that through providing engaging, relatable projects and tutorials, we can inspire the next generation of computer scientists and show the world the creative, real-world side of programming and computer science.
It's really easy to get started with Mission Encodeable! We've tried to remove as much friction in getting set up as possible, so you don't have to create an account or pay for anything.
All you (or your students) have to do is go to https://missionencodeable.com/get-started and choose the most suitable level for you.
And if it's your first time learning to code, don't worry! Our tutorials start right from the beginning and even show you how to get set up with an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), where you'll be able to write and run all of your code.
If you're a teacher, our resources can be found at https://missionencodeable.com/teachers, and if you'd like to request a personalised, free demo to see what Mission Encodeable can do for you and your school, all you have to do is fill out this form https://missionencodeable.com/request-a-demo.
Finally, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions then please do get in touch with us! There's a contact page and feedback forms on our website, and you can also find us on X, Facebook and LinkedIn.