Common Sense Review
Updated May 2014

Code Avengers

Challenging puzzles teach with real code, best for more advanced kids
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Here's an example view of a JavaScript lesson.
  • Web Development lessons help kids learn practical, 21st century skills.
  • The dashboard displays progress, badges, and points.
  • Students can earn new badges as they make progress.
  • The coding games offer a nice break between lessons.
The lessons are consistently rigorous, relevant, and provide many different support options.
Students may be put off by the limited graphics, text-based directions, and the sheer difficulty of some lessons.
Bottom Line
A superb programming tutor, well worth the effort to keep students going.
Amy Cox
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Badges and points help to make the challenging lessons more rewarding, but this may not be enough for some students to persevere through some of the more challenging lessons.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 5

Students will learn an incredible amount about programming, as lessons build on each other and consistently focus on debugging and syntax. Unlike with some other tutorials, students will learn by writing real code.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Students have access to a range of supports, including a reference guide, feedback for wrong answers, as well as actual answers (for when they're completely stuck). More video, audio, and graphic supports would make nice additions.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Code Avengers is definitely geared toward independent work. Nevertheless, teachers should encourage students to work together, especially if they're stuck on a difficult challenge (or they may drive you crazy asking you for help!). Keep in mind that it's important to balance this peer support with opportunities for students to struggle individually from time to time. While students need to be team players in life, they also need to be able to solve problems independently -- consider this as you plan any Code Avengers units. 

Also, even for teachers with coding experience, before assigning any work here it's best to go through some of the lessons to get a feel for the program's structure. As you help students along, it will be good to know where to click for the different types of built-in supports.

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What's It Like?

Code Avengers (a website and Chrome app) includes free and paid courses in Web Development (HTML & CSS) and JavaScript. Within each course, the first level is not only quite substantial, it's free -- students can learn the basics without having to pay. Every lesson includes written directions that students will need to follow in order to complete each coding challenge.

While coding here doesn't necessarily motivate with cute characters or a story line, most students will find themselves intrinsically motivated through success with actual coding, though kids are bound to like collecting the program's badges and points along the way. Also, unlike with many other beginner coding platforms, students will actually write real code. Between some lessons, students also get short (sometimes relevant) game breaks, including simple shooting, typing, and clicking games.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Impressively, Code Avengers keeps students focused on syntax as they progress through lessons and debugging tasks. Code Avengers' focus here is what makes it stand out from other similar programs. The debugging and syntax focus (even within the games) forces students to think critically and gives them a very realistic programming experience.

However, this focus can also make the lessons quite challenging. Students will have to grapple with errors in lines of code and figure out what the issue is -- sometimes with limited support. Students who are used to quitting when the going gets tough will need some extra support from teachers. For many students, some active training to think differently may help them in completing some levels. Furthermore, the directions are mostly text-based, which could add an additional level of difficulty for struggling readers.

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