Code Year / Codecademy (Edited)

A quick note – as Mike McGee points out in the comments – it is not Code Academy – it is Codecademy. My brain fixed the “error” without letting me know. It appears the Codecademy folks couldn’t get the name they wanted so went for something close. I apologize for any confusion my post may have created. — JR

The tldr – Very promising platform with a lot of potential, a bit rough around the edges right now.

Via TechCrunch, I found Codecademy. They are behind Code Year.

I’m not sure if the two are different at all. I guess I’ll figure it out when I get an email from Code Year. I’ve already done all the courses/lessons available at Codecademy.

Right now there is just some basic stuff on JavaScript. It’s not anything earth shattering – but I really like the approach and the platform they’ve built. All the lessons take place at their site. The lesson pages have instructions, an editor and a shell. Everything that one does happens in the editor or shell and it lets the student move on when each exercise is successfully completed.

There are some rough edges. Sometimes it’s necessary to read comments and instructions in the editor. The editor can’t be re-sized and a few times the comments were too long, so I had to scroll sideways to see the whole thing. That’s a pretty easy fix I think.

And sometimes I couldn’t get past an exercise but the feedback in the shell wouldn’t tell me why. I had one exercise where my solution was technically correct, but I’m guessing that the steps I took violated some threshold so it wouldn’t let me pass that section until I guessed just how they wanted it done. That was the most frustrating time so far. I could have skipped it and moved on but I wanted to get 100% completion.

They track how many lessons the student has passed. This leads to achievements that give students little badges on their profile. I really dig this kind of ‘gaming’ educational materials. I’m sure to certain people they are stupid or pointless – but to someone with a brain like mine they are incredibly motivating.

The Code Year piece is supposed to email out a new lesson each week. My guess is the first few weeks will be the lessons I’ve already done. I may blow off the code year thing and just keep checking code academy for new courses.

Performance as the Codecademy site has been less than stellar. I’m hoping they get that fixed. Sometimes I had to reload pages and pretty much always it was a long wait. Sometimes I’d finish a piece, it would show that I had completed it but then back at my profile it would show pieces not finished. I had to go back and click through the end again.

On an interesting side note – the Codecademy site says they are hiring. They are looking for a few people. What made me chuckle was the section on developers:
Our stack:

We love macs, but we’re not allergic to Linux systems

I laughed because I saw the Ruby on Rails bit and thought, “I wonder how that will scale.” They’ve been mentioned on TechCrunch and Hacker News already. I’m surprised if it hasn’t been submitted to Reddit. I expect to see it pop up on the slashdot front page at some point. I’m guessing they are going to see a lot of traffic.