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Wed, 27 Mar 2013
Code Academy
# 20:45 in ./tech

Speaking of online education, as you might imagine the field has been particularly attractive to people in the computing industry. Those that build and design the internet and all the various programs and services that run on it have been early adopters of the technology. Podcast style videos for instruction, demo and training are fairly common and are often very good. They're much easier to create nowadays as well.

One of these new companies is called Code Academy.

Code Academy run various courses (tracks) on (generally) web oriented technologies like HTML authoring, the Javascript and Python programming languages and various other things.

I joined up a few weeks ago to take a look and, over a couple of weeks, worked through their Javascript track.

The course starts as a very basic introduction to computer programming itself but builds up to decent coverage of topics like functions and objects. What makes these courses good is the interaction and encouragement the system gives the student. This is all programmed into the web site code ofcourse but makes the experience much more engaging.

Every track is broken down into sections, further sub-divided. A key here might be that the exercises make up a great deal of the instruction: a short introduction and explanation of a concept leading very quickly to hands-on coding.

For the code editing, the web pages have a built in Javascript editor with syntax highlighting and basic error checking. You can run the code immediately and see the results in a console beside the editor. In addition, there are question and answer forums for each section so you can read what others are saying (and help out if you can).

To keep you interested, encouragement is given by earning "badges" and you get emails praising certain accomplishments. These might be completing a section or working on the course for multiple days in a row. This sort of immediate feedback is one of the key elements of a course like this.

So I earned a few badges ... :-)

I still have some way to go before I'm a Javascript Ninja though!

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