Although I write a lot on apps and on the internet, I never really learned to code.
I threw the “really” in there to soften it up, but the point is, I have no idea how to do it at all. I started learning at one point in college, but my high school didn’t push for CS, and in college I spent all of my hours writing for the student newspaper or reading books written by students. dead whites. So that never happened.
But it’s on my to-do list. I swear.
Today Codecademy made its first foray into the application space and released an Introductory Coding course designed to take less than an hour. I had a lot of laundry to do so I thought I would give it a try.
The launch has been timed to coincide with Computer Science Education Week, one of the goals of which is to get 10 million students in the United States to complete one hour of coding. But the broader goal of the app was to create a version of the course that could be completed in small portions on the fly, well suited for working professionals and busy types who want to learn a new skill.
Codecademy for iPhone will ultimately be its own independent learning platform, said CEO and founder Zach Sims. The first version is very basic – it basically shows you what the coding looks like and what the most rudimentary functions are – and the team is hoping to release more content this week.
The app is meant to be a very easy onboarding ramp to future coding. The text feedback you receive after each question is encouraging and makes you feel like you’ve succeeded, which is good motivation if you, like me, have a fragile but easily inflated ego. I finished the class right before the end of my lights wash cycle and immediately wanted more.
The program is currently divided into five different sections which go from one to another: an Introduction (“Getting Started”), Data Types, Variables, Comparisons and If… Else. Each includes a few examples and questions, constituting, as The Sims say, a series of “snack” lessons.
The learning experience should work under the usual mobile constraints, especially a smaller screen size and user intolerance to type a lot. While Codecademy’s desktop service supports learning by doing, the app takes your hand a little more. Rather than writing their own code, users fill out short segments of pre-written lines of code, most of which are presented as multiple-choice questions. For some sections, just click on “Run” without answering a question
Some questions seem ridiculously easy. In the introductory section, for example, you are asked, “Can you write a program that calculates” 6-2 “? And all you have to do is fill in “print (6? 2);” with a minus sign. (The “?” There is a box you tap for your multiple choice options.)
“Ha ha! You can laugh at yourself. “Coding is for Dummies! I am going to make a fortune with my idea for an application! “
This is the problem with passive learning, rather than working on a problem on your own. You have to remember to be careful.
My only problem with the half hour I spent on the app today (humblebrag) was that there was no definition provided, so you might have to google things like “what is a chain? ” Just for example. Presumably this will work out as Codecademy continues to develop the mobile wing of its business.
The goal is to create a platform independent product, Sims said, citing Duolingo as a successful electronics tech company in this regard. The restrictions on producing its own code are tight, so I can’t wait to see how Codecademy negotiates this. For now, I think I’ll register online.