Delivering free coding classes online
Organisation Twitter: @codecademy
Codecademy, a three-year-old New York start-up that delivers free classes in coding on the web, will be instrumental in how, this autumn, English schools implement the Government’s bold plan to mandate computing education as part of the national curriculum.
Codecademy’s role is two-fold: first, it is partnering with local non-profit Computing At School (CAS), the group that drafted the computing curriculum for the UK Government to train 20,000 often technology-illiterate teachers in how to teach the new discipline. Codecademy’s remote learning platform will support CAS’s face-to-face teacher training programme so teachers can study remotely and brush up on their skills after workshops have ended.
The company has also developed content that teachers can use directly in the classroom: bringing out a ‘class in a box’, with workbooks and sample lesson plans, and dashboards to monitor student progress. ‘What’s going on here is unprecedented and the results will be pretty extraordinary,’ says CEO Zach Sims of the UK programme, which will teach code to schoolchildren as young as five. ‘You’ll solve a couple of problems pretty much immediately: the IT skills gap and, hopefully, the gender gap in technology.’
The UK computing curriculum is the first time a state has mandated blended learning, that is, studying online at your own pace alongside traditional classroom teaching. It’s a leap in technique that Codecademy, which has taught 25m to code on its site already, is perfectly placed to support: ‘It’s easy to shift a lot of the burden of teaching the material onto [our] platform,’ says Sims, ‘[where there’s material] that’s already been vetted. We look at this as a really good opportunity to look at learning at scale: it’s the first real at-scale test of [the effectiveness of having] teachers acting as facilitators with an online tool.’
As well as delivering a sizeable chunk of the UK computing education curriculum, Codecademy’s net-native way of teaching is gaining momentum worldwide: it will roll out the programme in Estonia’s schools next, and the group is running a pilot in Buenos Aires before expanding across Argentina’s education system.
The company’s content is already used in thousands of after-school programmes in the US. Also in development: bite-size programming exercises delivered via an iPhone app.
Image courtesy of Codecademy
Last updated: 09th of June, 2014