After $950K Investment, Codelicious Grows Collaborative Teaching Model

Codelicious, the Indianapolis-based educational tech startup, is on a mission to create access and remove barriers to teaching and learning computer science, says CEO Christine McDonnell.

Over the summer, the organization raised nearly $1 million from Collina Ventures, GRE Capital, Elevate Ventures and others to advance its software platform that enables instructors to build their coding skills while teaching the same skills to their students.

“There are a couple of opportunities and challenges educators face” when it comes to teaching computer science, McDonnell explains. “They lack confidence in their own computer skills, and they lack lesson plans and professional development. Our patent-pending technology alleviates all three pain points.”

Codelicious’s intellectual property revolves around the way the startup’s technology stokes engagement, McDonnell says. “We understand educational goals and match them with a cloud-based library that has a semester’s worth of material that is compliant with state standards and sequentially built, like a foreign language curriculum. It’s meant to be delivered by an educator in a classroom through discussion and collaborative projects. People have this idea that computer science work is done in isolation, but collaboration is the key to problem-solving.”

The organization’s curriculum focuses on students in grades three through eight, McDonnell says, and is meant to be easily disseminated even by those with no background in coding or IT.

“We write the curriculum so anyone can teach computer science—English teachers as well as those teaching STEM-related subjects,” she adds. “We give them lesson plans, background knowledge, discussion points, and a pre- and post-course efficacy exam to see where students are at the beginning versus the end.”

McDonnell says schools pay a flat licensing fee to access the Codelicious curriculum, and teachers are trained via video and webinar, or on site. The organization has established a “strong base” in Indiana, and is making inroads in other states as it begins to scale nationwide, she says.

The two-person Codelicious team did a stint in Gener8tor’s gBeta accelerator this year, which has helped the company refine its commercialization plans. (The accelerator does not invest in participating startups.) McDonnell estimates that roughly 1,000 Indiana students have been impacted by Codelicious’s classes so far. McDonnell says the organization plans to use its new investment capital to increase sales and marketing efforts and expand its IP portfolio.

“Codelicious has a rare opportunity,” said Chris LaMothe, CEO of Elevate Ventures, in a statement. “The startup is poised to impact not only the state’s current entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also its future one. Through the platform, students are better poised to fill high-demand tech positions and perhaps build their own future startups here in Indiana.”

Nearly 600,000 tech jobs go unfilled each year in the United States, McDonnell says, and only a small percentage are coding jobs. “The rest are support jobs that don’t require mastery of coding, but a general knowledge of computer science,” she continues. “We want to open students’ eyes to careers they can be excited about.”

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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