August 31, 2014

Codecademy’s Free Kits Help Kids (and Educators) Learn to Code

From

The Codeacademy office in New York

Hoping to get students into coding? Enter Codecademy. The New York-based startup, which teaches users how to code through a free, interactive website, is now packaging its popular online lessons into free, bite-sized kits for teachers and librarians to launch their own mini-Codecademies in class or after school.

“We know teachers are busy and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to do,” says Sasha Laundy, Codecademy’s curriculum strategist and a former physics and neuroscience high school teacher in San Francisco, CA. “We thought of everything and put in it one place.”

There are two different types of courses—a game-based one that teaches JavaScript and another that covers HTML and the CSS programming language, in which creators end up creating a website in a final exercise. The lessons, built with the help of teachers, come with an associated project, says Laundy, which students can then customize into something more personal. While mostly high school students have taken advantage of the lessons, Laundy says younger kids have used the site—but they must be at least 13 years old to create a free online account.

Following its latest Series B venture capital round—and now flush with $10 million in funding — Codecademy is sending educators the kits with guidance on how to integrate the courses within their classes or launch a related after school club. Part of the reason they launched the program, adds Laundy, was their awareness of the shortage of computer science teachers in the U.S., and that the numbers of existing programs are actually shrinking.

With the kit, even classroom teachers can become computer science educators, helping students master the programming classes, while also getting help with publicizing the lessons and enlisting help from their school administrators. Each kit will include everything from stickers to posters, even pre-written letters to give to principals and parents to help support the program.

Several hundred schools around the world have already requested the kits. And Laundry says Codecademy hopes to hear from more educators who might stick around and head to the “Teacher’s Lounge” to share how they’re using the materials with their students.

“We would love to hear how this is working,” she says. “It would be great for educators to connect to each other and for librarians and teachers to exchange best practices all over the world.”

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Lauren Barack About Lauren Barack

Lauren Barack writes about the connection between media and education, business and technology, and is the recipient of the Loeb Award for online journalism. She can be found at www.laurenbarack.com.

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