XModus Learning

Computer Science and Play-Based Learning for Kids

Who we are

email: chris@xmodus.com
phone: (604) 721-0200
Chris Kerslake, President and Founder

Chris Kerslake founded XModus in 2000 after working for Revenue Canada (now the Canada Revenue Agency), Canada Safeway, Chevron Canada and several software start-up companies in Vancouver. In 2015 after volunteering at his local elementary school, including two years as the Chairperson for the Bayview Parent Advisor Council (PAC), he decided to shift his focus from working on school issues to working with students directly.

Chris has a master's degree in educational technology, a bachelor's degree in computer science from Simon Fraser University (SFU), and has been programming with computers since he was 11 years old when his school purchased their first computer in the early 1980s. In addition to teaching in Vancouver, Chris also works with SFU's Science AL!VE to create materials for K-12 teacher professional development programs and summer camps. Chris also volunteers, mentors, and supports technology outreach programs such as Technovation Girls. An avid endurance cyclists, when he's not teaching, coding, writing or helping you'll find him out on the roads in and around Vancouver.

How it all started
In late 2015 in partnership with the Jericho Kids Club (JKC) Chris launched the Digital World Builders (DWB) after-school program. The first classes focused on introducing play-based learning in the form of Minecraft adventures. The first adventures encouraged students to work together to complete and solve puzzles and were such a hit with the students (and their parents) that the program was extended and more classes, this time focused on computer programming, were added for Spring 2016. Following the successful after-school programs and seeing a demand for more in-depth learning, Chris piloted an in-class program in Spring 2016 focused on one aspect of computer science -- encryption. The successful pilot demonstrated a bigger need and so the Elementary Computer Science program was born.

Why we are different

  • "Have Fun" Is Our First Rule.

    We only have three rules for the students to follow in our class and the first one is "Have Fun" (the other two can be found here). Have fun means more than just enjoyment it also means checking your actions against others by ensuring that your actions are not causing others to not have fun and that students are free to explore and push the boundaries in a virtual world. "Can I break this?" is often met with "give it a try".

  • Hands On Instruction.

    We instruct students directly through hands-on classes with an instructor who leads them through the exercises and answers and guides their interactions. We don't just give our instruction and hope that the students will get it, instead we seek understanding and discussion about the topics and when we're done we seek feedback and use that to shape our future classes.

  • Promoting Leadership, By Example.

    We seek to promote our students to become teachers and leaders themselves by focusing on group activities and pairing more-experienced students to help their less-experienced team mates. We also seek to teach the concept of "show, don't do" where students demonstrate and instruct other students rather than taking over their computer physically and doing a task for a fellow student -- once that student knows what and how to do something they can show someone else and they can contribute to the team.

  • Computer Science, Not (Just)
    Computer Programming.

    We seek to teach the fundamentals of computer science rather than just how to write computer programs. Computer programming, or coding, is a skill that computer scientists, among others, use to get computers to perform the tasks they need and focuses on learning and applying a chosen computer programming language on a particular computer platform. Computer science encompasses the fundamental algorithms, theories, problems and solutions that are often realized by writing computer programs. Computer science is founded in philosophy, mathematics, psychology and statistics -- to name a few of the many applied techniques and processes. We discuss real-world problems, talk about possible solutions, follow different paths and look for better or different solutions, all the while discussing the trade-offs associated with each. It's part philosophy and part pragmatic analysis and that's what makes it such an interesting applied science.