Now is the time for new education methods, says Franck Jones.

Now is the time for new education methods

I started researching how to inspire teens to want to learn electrical engineering and computer science six years ago using comics and short stories called, The Hacker Way. I tried many things in the beginning and settled on comic books after a full year of experimentation with various other methods. 

My first set of comic pages served as a "tao for tech" in my community. The pages helped me teach kids new things while helping to explain the culture, the history and the awesome future we all have in tech. The Hacker Way quickly became a valuable tool in my work with young people, and I became a guide. 

As I began compiling more and more pages, parents and teachers began asking for official products in large numbers, but it wasn't that simple. The barriers trying to persuade young readers to read my books were one thing, but finding a way to interact with them on a regular basis, was another. I started thinking about making more than just a printed comic book and how to use the costly art I was producing in more ways than one.

It wasn't until a year ago that I discovered a formula worth going all in on; a potential first mover in a 2+ trillion dollar education industry. In December of 2019 I raised $100,000 to support the development of a complete system for steadily producing motivating graphic novel content with transmedia delivery (multiplatform engagement). Last month, the same group of investors committed to an additional $100,000 to help support a national launch, perhaps even international. 

Allow me to explain...  What starts off as a printed or digitally native comic becomes so much more. Node Chronicles plays like a game with a companion app that readers scan to collect symbols, which in turn, unlocks the mystery and the power. Follow along and YOU become the hero, in real life. No other book does this.

Let's think about all that for a moment: think Black Mirror meets Fortnite and Mr. Robot, for education. With an interactive app in play with challenges to complement the adventure, we can now extend and measure engagement better, and provide a more effective learning strategy. In doing so, we’ve created the first comic book that allows readers to unlock real world achievements. Node Chronicles has morphed into a technology class and a collectible platform for hobbyists. 

Some of the achievements users unlock require things like, signing up for Github, or starting a prototype, or using SSH to communicate with servers. Some require our "Hack Pack" parts to build coils and electromagnetic fields, circuits and IoT devices. What's more, Node Chronicles makes learning these tools more exciting and fun than most traditional methods. They've been deemed easier to follow and more exciting than other classes.

This year, usability research with our products surpassed my expectations and it became clear after demos with Scholastic, YMCA, New World Books and dozens of other schools and distributors that we’ve created something new, something timely and impressive, something easy to adopt - something any teacher or parent sees immediate value in. With pre-market demand on all time highs, our team spent all of 2020 heads down preparing for an Amazon, Shopify and B2B launch. We built our dream product and are all set for takeoff and the moment of truth.

There's a lot of money in this if it works, and that means we have a shot at achieving our ultimate goal: to truly guide young people everywhere, even those who can't afford it.