The face of education is changing (or so we hope!). While kids still learn from text books and instructors, organizations and individuals are working hard to create a paradigm shift. Initiatives like Khan Academy or Skillshare are redefining how and when we choose to learn. But a greater challenge in learning still comes from understanding and utilizing complex skill sets. As we move further into a world dominated by technology, the need for proficient programmers will grow. And even though coding is the backbone of every great website, startup, and piece of technology we use, learning how to program still remains complicated. Until now?
After graduating from Columbia University, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinsky created Codecademy, a startup that plans on teaching the entire world how to code. Codecademy is a unique title as it’s one of the few non-traditional gaming experiences we have listed on our Play page. To learn more about how Codecademy was created, I spoke with co-creator Zach Sims over email.
Codecademy was born simply through frustration. The traditional model of learning how to code often meant pouring over large textbooks or viewing hours of video online. The problem, Zach says, is that “ they require the user to read or watch for a long period of time before creating a program. This means they’re constantly trying to remember the things they learned and not implementing them.” Codecademy flips that idea on its head by creating a “learn by doing atmosphere” which engages the user in coding tasks from the get go. Before you even register for the site, you can start learning simple programming techniques that introduce you to how Codecademy works.
Like traditional education, Codecademy breaks up learning by courses and lessons. However, everything deviates from there. Each lesson introduces a topic and gives you a simple task to complete. Often times, the guidance the website gives you is vague, encouraging the user to figure out how to solve the problem. By doing this, it allows the user to immediately implement the knowledge they’ve gained in a short, problem-solving environment. As you progress through the site, you encounter more difficult programming lessons and are asked to call upon knowledge from past lessons.
To increase motivation, Codecademy offers a handful of gaming features to keep users on site. Among traditional standbys like points and progress bars, Codecademy implements meaningful uses of badges that give users visual indicators of their progress. Connecting to Facebook and Twitter allows you to engage your friends and compare scores. And to flesh out the site and create a more robust lesson plan, Codecademy even allows users to submit their own lessons, building an atmosphere of learning together and sharing.
In an interview with Mashable, co-creator Ryan Bubinsky stated, “I like to view using a computer as the equivalent to knowing how to read; and knowing how to program for a computer is learning how to write.” At the time of this article, Codecademy has served over 2 million lessons worldwide to over 1 million users. Codecademy is poised to teach a critical 21st century skill to millions more and we’re excited to follow this startup as they grow.
To get started with Codecademy, visit their game profile on our website.