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Eric Phetteplace's picture

Teaching with Codecademy

Hey Libcodeyear peeps,

I thought it would be worth mentioning that I'm using Codecademy in a course I'm teaching this semester. The course is called "The Nature of Knowledge" (I know, awesome right?) and my co-instructor and I are specifically investigating what happens to knowledge when it becomes digital and networked. As such, the final project is editing Wikipedia articles. To introduce the concept of a markup language and its particular separation of form and content, our students are completing the very first "HTML Basics" lesson and optionally the "Build Your Own Website" project for extra credit.

One thing I've noticed is that, while many of us struggled with concepts or with keeping up with the Code Year weekly lessons, our problems were at a pretty high level relative to your average undergrad thrown into HTML/CSS. I don't know if it's the self-selection of people who are already interested in learning coding, but learning even the basics of OOP would blow my students minds. Almost all of them struggle with the idea that an anchor tag can include plain text or another tag. I'm grateful we didn't decide to use the JavaScript lessons because our students would almost certainly revolt.

Secondly, Codecademy, despite some poor directions on certain lessons, is a pretty great tool. Several students showed enthusiasm. Many thought learning the "secret language" of the web was cool. A few expressed interest in doing more lessons. I think, as a one-off lesson inside of a larger course, Codecademy is an excellent delivery platform.

So that's all. Has anyone else considered doing this? What about teaching a whole "Intro to HTML" course with it? I love the idea of stealing this great, interactive platform and supplementing it with the personal touch of instruction.

Becky Yoose (non-member)'s picture

I know that Codecademy has revamped their JS and JQuery lessons based on the feedback they got from Code Year, and after going through some of the revamped lessons, they fix some of the pacing and concept issues that they had with the original lessons.

I'd be also interested in hearing if folks are taking advantage of the course creator section at Codecademy. [1] I think the existing HTML lessons are ok, but it'd be interesting to see if folks decide to create their own lessons for various classes.

If nothing else, I like the fact that people have the option to learn a particular language without having to go through the installation and configuration processes, which many get stuck on and eventually lose the motivation to learn that new language.

[1] http://www.codecademy.com/create