We use programs run by code every day, but so few of us actually know how to code ourselves. Codecademy, an online learning website, aims to teach the world how to code. Their site is home to free, learn by doing coding lessons on HTML, CSS, Java, Ruby, SQL, Sass, and more. Codecademy wants to redefine education and create accessible learning online.
In 2011, Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski founded Codecademy. To help fund their company, the CEO’s received investments from the following companies: Collaborative, Founder Collective, O’Reilly, Union Square Ventures, SVAngel, Index Ventures, KPCB, Thrive Capital, and NASPERS. The Series C round of funding is led by NASPERS, a large media company based in South Africa. The investments that Codecademy receives from these companies enables coding lessons to be free.
Getting started on Codecademy is as easy as doing a quick google search and it will be the first result, or can also be found by going to codecademy.com. Beginning is simple on this site because it is mostly open access. The coding lessons are free to access; however, you have to pay a subscription fee if you would like to upgrade to Codecademy Pro to receive lesson quizzes, on-demand help, and clear pathways to jobs. To gain an understanding of coding, a pro upgrade is not necessary. However, if you are going to be tested on your coding skills, the quizzes may serve as a beneficial learning aid. Open access lessons make trying coding for the first time easier because you do not need to commit to a large monthly subscription fee.
One of the benefits of a site created by coding experts is that it is well designed both in terms of aesthetics and navigation. The site has a white background with navy, aqua, and grey details that add life to text and navigation panels. The minimal design creates a modern look which makes navigation easy.
When you go to the Codecademy home page, the first thing that you see is the dashboard of your coding lessons, which personalizes the site to you and your progress. On my page it shows that I am on Learn HTML & CSS: Part 1. Since Codecademy automatically saves your progress, I can begin right where I left off on lesson six. The course lesson screen has three panels, the first with lesson instructions, the second with HTML and CSS sheets and the third with a representation of what the code you wrote will look like on a real webpage. In each lesson you are taught new code and then are instructed to practice what you learned on HTML and CSS sheets. This three panel set up allows you to see the instructions of what you need to do, work on the coding and see in real time what will happen on an actual webpage.
Codecademy aims to get students interested in coding with having computer science learning in the classroom. One way Codecademy believes this can be done is by making teaching tools accessible on their site. There is a section on Codecademy’s website where teachers can find lesson plans for students as well as classroom tracking software that keeps track of how much of the course students have completed, what unit and exercise they are on, and the badges that they have earned. This allows teachers to create coding lessons for their students and effectively evaluate their progress. Codecademy is not only beneficial for middle and high school students, but also college students as well. The company believes that colleges and education institutions are not changing enough based on labor needs seen in the job market today.
Business is another sector that Codecademy covers. They have a section on their website called Codecademy for Business where companies can pay for courses to teach their employees web development, languages and tools, and data analytics. Codecademy believes coding knowledge is important for working professionals. Many people believe that coding jobs can be outsourced; however, if a coder does not understand your business the programming can only go so far.
Codecademy is also for adults who may be unsatisfied with their current job, do not have a college degree, in a professional rut, or want to boost their employment skills. Many people have built successful careers after completing courses on Codecademy. One of these people is Saadika Alard from Johannesburg, South Africa who learned to code to get out of her job in retail in order to have more time to spend with her family. She became a front end developer at Mann Made Media. Saadika was a single mom when she started coding and believes that women have a place in this career as well. Codecademy helped Saadika get the career that she wanted. Many more of these success stories can be found at the bottom of Codecademy’s website.
With the influx of coding, there are many other websites where people can learn to code. An example of this is Treehouse, where they teach coding using hypothetical projects like creating a shopping website or an app that imitates Snapchat. Unlike Codecademy where lessons are taught in short bits of information. Treehouse also has initiatives to help people who have gone through the program get jobs afterwards. Another coding site, Lynda, a pioneer in the business, has the most extensive library of courses out of all of these coding sites. Their teaching methods are projects and videos. However, the program lacks a community and does not help you get a job afterwards. Code.org, another learn to code site, which like Codecademy does not charge for its courses and wants to get every school kid coding. Now code learning companies have started to get kids involved with programming, on the site LearntoMod you can learn to code by playing a Minecraft inspired game.
There are many other sites that teach the same skills as Codecademy, but there are a couple of aspects that set it apart from the crowd. It is free to learn on Codecademy, which is an easy way to draw in new coders because they do not have to commit to coding through a pricey membership. Another benefit of Codecademy is that you do not have install any software on your computer because they have a simulator on their site. Codecademy’s learn-by-doing approach creates more effective learning that forces you to implement your knowledge right away, unlike other sites were you may just watch an explanatory video.
Codecademy is a great place to get started, however, there are few areas of the site that could evaluated. The lessons on Codecademy are great for beginner coders; however, they lack the advanced problem solving skills that some of the other program learning sites offer. You may be able to apply the concepts in the Codecademy lessons, but it will be harder to apply them in the real world. Instructions on Codecademy are text descriptions rather than video, which may create comprehension difficulties for some users. Codecademy is a great site for beginners and does not claim to cover advanced level programming skills.
Codecademy is not only great for learning coding skills, but is also a site of digital activism as well. The open access, free coding lessons provide education opportunities for those who might not otherwise have access to them. If you do not have the money to pay for a college education, you can use Codecademy to learn how to code, providing you with a highly sought skill in the job market today. ReskillUSA was launched by Codecademy in effort to close the gap between technical education and employment. Codecademy is also part of the hour of code initiative, which aims to get people coding for an hour a day with quick and fun challenges. This company also aims to redefine the education industry by creating the first net native education. Codecademy believes that the education system is archaic and needs to be modernized by taking more cues from Facebook and Zynga than the classroom. This shift in education that Codecademy started will help students who are struggling in a traditional classroom setting find education opportunities that cater more directly to their needs.
Codecademy has created accessible learning online through free lesson access, audience targeted programs, learn to code initiatives, and the refinement of education. This easy to use online learning site has brought coding to many individuals who might not have had access to it if there were a cost barrier.
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