Codecademy Is Free Interactive Computer Programming Lessons For HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, & Ruby

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codecademyCodecademy is user-contributed tutorials for HTML/CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, and Ruby.  There’s a gallery of specific projects, including Build a Cash Register and A Night at the Movies.  Despite some issues, Codecademy has legitimate potential.  Zach Sims, Codecademy co-founder, was recently interviewed by Stephen Colbert on ‘Colbert Report’ (embedded below).

The company’s mission is creating the online learning experience of the future.  Codecademy (not spelled “Code Academy”) claims to have helped more than 10 million people learn to code.  Codecademy Success Stories has testimonials by real people about solving problems and starting new careers.  There’s also details about organizing an after-school coding club.

Teaching Experience And Usability

Codecademy’s team lacks any teaching experience.  The company’s hiring page doesn’t seem to be looking for any professional educators, either.  Courses are created by individual users.  I agree with another blogger’s review of Codecademy that user-submitted tutorials create inconsistent lesson quality.  Codecademy does not explain how they are “rethinking education from the bottom up” without actually knowing anything about how teachers interact with students.  I’m not reassured by the stated approach of taking “more cues from Facebook and Zynga in creating an engaging educational experience than we do from the classroom.”

Usability issues also distract from the site’s intended purpose of teaching people.  Codecademy’s website layout is confusing.  Available programming languages are  listed in small print at the very bottom.  There’s no obvious link to the projects section, which Codecademy calls “non-track content”.  Online discussion groups are impossible to browse without first logging in.  Codecademy generally lacks any pictures or links to demos of what projects are supposed to look like when you’re done.

Making Computer Science Available To Everyone

Patrick McConlogue and Leo the Homeless Coder

Patrick McConlogue &
Leo Grand

Stories like Leo Grand, the homeless coder demonstrate the possibilities in learning technology together.  Code.org is a non-profit with education advisors that is “dedicated to growing computer science education by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color.”  Popular educational sites like Khan Academy are also beginning to offer computer science tutorials.

Codecademy has potential as a platform for learning computer science skills.  However, other startups are working on this same idea.  Successful education startups reasonably need to be intuitive and involve people that understand education.  By focusing on those two qualities, Codecademy could become the global platform for teaching the world to code.

The Colbert Report
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