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Review by David Thomas, Common Sense Education | Updated February 2014

Codecademy: Code Hour

Whirlwind taste of programming boosts confidence for novice coders

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Critical Thinking

Subjects
N/A
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
7-12
Great for:
Common Sense says (See details)
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Not yet reviewed

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Pros: Dive right into learning programing and interact with real code in no time.

Cons: The standalone app doesn't provide a lot of additional support when questions arise.

Bottom Line: Learn (a little) code in an hour.

In an ideal situation, a teacher would have kids with iPads in the classroom. With the kids working alone or in pairs, the teacher could provide answers to inevitable questions such as "What is a Boolean?" and keep students on track for an hour-long introduction to computer programming. Alternatively, Codecademy: Code Hour could make for a practical homework assignment, getting kids familiar with basic code concepts that would normally be covered in an intro to web programming class.

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With the point-and-click experience users have come to expect from iPhone and iPad apps, Codecademy: Code Hour wastes no time and adds few frills to its lean introduction to computer programming. Each mini-lesson consists of a sentence or two of instruction, a snippet of code, and part of the code for the student to manipulate. Get the answer right, and the coder moves on to the next lesson. Get it wrong, and helpful feedback helps clarify any problems.

This impossible-to-fail formula keeps learners progressing through the app as they pick up the basics of JavaScript and HTML. Work through to the end of the lessons and newly minted novice programmers can show off their skills by making a webpage on the Codecademy site.

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For a kid expressing interest in computer programming, Codecademy: Code Hour might be a good place to start. The quick-hit lessons and friendly feedback give learners lots of positive feedback as they work through the nuts and bolts of code. These little steps help scaffold self-confidence about programming more than they cement deeper understanding. The app developers seem to understand this and complete their lessons with a small project, which has learners view the results right on the Codecademy site -- a spot packed with new code-learning opportunities.

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Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Bite-size lessons make it easy to get started, and encouraging feedback keeps kids interested.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Dropping students right into the action gets them working on code from the start.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Inside the app, it's sink or swim with the lessons. On the Codecademy site, students will find a wealth of support and resources.


Common Sense Reviewer
David Thomas Director of academic technology