On November 5-6, the CODDY programming school opens in Limassol. ‘Herald of Cyprus’ spoke with its founder, Boris Samarianov.
- Why did you decide to go into this particular business? Why the school?
- My main business was related to the international education of schoolchildren and students: teaching foreign languages, preparing them for admission to international universities, internship programs and summer jobs for students abroad. The topic of education is very close to my heart.
Before moving to Cyprus, my 6 year old went to CODDY School for a year to study Minecraft - the basics of artificial intelligence. Even back then, I was amazed at how easy it was to motivate a student to do his homework on his own for 2-3 hours. It was at that moment that I turned my attention to the CODDY school and bought its franchise.
- What attracted you to this particular brand?
- For me, as a businessman, the following fact speaks for itself: in the seven years of work from scratch the school has opened branches in 27 countries and has trained more than 350,000 children in different courses.
By the way, the CODDY school has almost 100 different educational programs for children aged 4 years and older. This is not only proof of a successful business model, but also a sign of the quality of the product: when customers themselves begin to recommend it to their friends.
- Do you think programming is something every child should master? Many people today believe that gadgets are an evil from which children should be protected.
- We are not quite aware of how the world has changed over the past 10-15 years, and what place programmable gadgets now occupy in our lives. I remember how seven years ago on a business trip to the Far East I was shocked when I came across a programmable toilet bowl with a description in Japanese.
Computers are everywhere: from agriculture to hotel business, architecture and medicine. No technological device works without software code. For some, computers are a job, for others a hobby, and for some, recreation, medical treatment, or entertainment. We no longer go to sleep or wake up without our phones.
Steve Jobs once said: ‘Everyone in today's world needs to learn how to use a computer. Because it is computers that teach us to think’. Look how many completely new, digital professions have appeared - SMM manager, search engine optimizer, content manager, YouTube and TikTok marketers, interface designer... and their number will grow day by day. Not without reason all analysts put technical and computer literacy in the first place among the skills of a successful person in the future.
- What will a child be able to do after a programming course? Will they be able to write computer programs themself?
- The procedure for writing program code is complicated. Not even that. It is very complicated and requires excellent mathematical training. Moreover, it is boring. And it requires the highest level of concentration. So not everyone by temperament and natural gifts can become a programmer. But in the process of teaching children we went from the other side, and tried to use for their education the environment they love most of all - computer games. Thus, the child is in the familiar and very beautiful world of computer games. And they work with their favorite characters. And they will begin to learn concepts such as algorithms, coordinate systems, 3D-measurements, loops, etc. long before their school math course.
So, from simpler things, we lead children to more complex things - writing commands. Most importantly, children will see the result of their work and be very proud of it. Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter recalled: when at the age of 8 he was able to draw a red circle and a green square on the Macintosh computer presented by his parents, he seriously began to consider himself a magician. And your child at almost the same age can write an entire game. Imagine that feeling!
- What programs do you plan to teach children and at what age?
- When we opened the school, we chose the most popular courses of the CODDY school. One of them is Minecraft - the basics of artificial intelligence. This course is suitable for the youngest children from 6 years old. And they don't need to have any computer skills. The training program is based on the educational platform Minecraft Education Edition, owned by Microsoft. In it, young programmers will need to create game plots through a programmable robot agent. It is to this robot they must set a certain sequence of commands so that it will perform the actions they want. As the children learn, the tasks get more complicated. The children will learn to guide the robot through the maze, build buildings, hide in them from nocturnal creatures, find exits from the maze, blow up obstacles, etc.
The second programming course is based on the Roblox Studio platform. We invite children at the age of 8 years and more. Here, students have a slightly different task: they become not only programmers, but also designers of the future game. Students must choose a scenario from the available scripts, design a landscape, draw in its details - trees, flowers and the characters themselves. The result will be their own game. The authors of the finished project will be able to offer it to Roblox users. And if they are successful, they can even monetize it!
We chose the following courses in order to try to involve children with very different interests and attitudes toward computers. The Ethical Hacker course for 12-year-olds is designed to teach kids how to stay safe in the Internet environment and protect themselves, their families, and any personal information from Internet scammers. Participants of this program will write their own spyware and break some wi-fi network, and then learn how to resist such software and how to protect their home network from hacking. They will learn about database architecture and be able to write simple Python programs. The final project of the course is a CTF (Capture the flag) competition, used in all cyber-security programming competitions.
Participants are divided into two teams. Each of them writes and protects some information in a repository. The other team will have to break into that vault in the least amount of time possible.
Another course is devoted to video-blogging. Today, video bloggers earn more than entire advertising agencies with a staff. This course is designed specifically for kids who want to try to develop skills in this area. We'll teach them not only how to properly create scripts and shoot sketches. A separate section of the course is devoted to the rules of behavior in front of the camera, dosage of personal information to show to the Internet public, editing videos and imposing special effects, creating and developing their youtube and Instagram channels, learning the differences between shooting videos for Youtube and Tik-Tok.
- How much do the courses cost? In what language are the courses held? In which district of Limassol? Will there be courses in other cities?
- The courses are in three languages: Greek, English and Russian. On Saturday, classes in Greek at the school English Learning Center. It's located in Limassol at Vasileos Konstantinou 138. On Sundays, classes in English and Russian are offered at the private Jewish school Bereshit. Each programming course is divided into two-month blocks, which consist of 8 sessions. Every block costs about 200 euros.
- How will the school be different from what we already have in Cyprus?
- This is quite a complicated question. Even in one school there are different teachers. It is important for a child to find just the right mentor who will engender in him the love for the subject. I can talk about a big deficit. If you measure by the population of Limassol, not to mention other cities, having four or five centers to teach programming is very little.
Recently, the risks and threats to the Cypriot economy were voiced at a meeting of the Cypriot government. The low level of digitalization is one of the main criteria. The number of schools for teaching computer literacy to children should be bigger.
- What are your plans for the future? What other courses will you offer at your school?
- The CODDY School has more than 100 courses. Among them is the Harvard CS50 course. CODDY has adapted it for teenagers. High school students who take this program and get a certificate, in the future if they get into a university where this course is taught, they get automatic credit. As for plans for the future, my dream is to create a full-fledged computer camp where children would live and study according to a specific program.
By joining forces with my partners who own language camps abroad, we would be able to create an interesting product: simultaneous teaching of a foreign language and programming.
The mission of CODDY is helping children to discover the world of programming and design, to be able to think creatively and become creators of new solutions and technologies for the benefit of the future and humanity as a whole.
At CODDY, young programmers:
develop games, write websites and apps, and create cartoons
master public speaking skills and work as team
come up with business ideas and develop entrepreneurial skills
improve computer literacy and learn about online safety, and much more!
At CODDY, parents don't worry about kids spending too much time at the computer because the programs are designed with a focus on balancing hobbies and learning. Here, kids fulfill their dreams, turn their ideas into real projects, and present them to the public. And according to internal school surveys, more than 80% of children improve their grades in science subjects in school!
We can help you choose a program and answer your questions