How I Use It
I would definitely recommend this product to other teachers, especially if they are new to teaching coding/programming. Even my youngest students are able to grasp programming concepts and skills through the courses which include videos that explain them well. Many of my low readers and English Language Learners were not independently able to work on puzzles because they couldn't read the directions or the commands on the blocks of code. It would great if this product included a hover, read aloud feature to scaffold for these students like in Brainpop Jr. online quizzes. It would be even better if this read aloud feature would also work in other languages. The site has an option to translate text into many different languages. This feature is great for English Language Learners who can read in their native language. This unfortunately doesn't help many of my learners at the elementary level that cannot read in their native language. I think the assessment features of the site could really be improved. The data is not at the level of detail needed to meet administrators' requirements for teachers. Also, the site disabled log-in and as a result data tracking as well due to very high levels of traffic. This unfortunately made assessment data unreliable and unusable. As teachers are required to gather assessment data for every lesson, I am strongly now considering alternative products to teach coding/programming next school year.
Another issue is that data is only tracked for the one course that the teacher chooses for the entire class. Many students wanted the ability to choose their own course, which they could do, but then I would not get any assessment data for that course. It would be really great if students could choose which ever course they prefer to work on and if I could get assessment data for each course a student works on. It is so important that student data accurately reflect student knowledge and skill level as well as their level of completion.
It is also currently very cumbersome to transfer student accounts from their class this year to their new class next year. This meant that I had to delete all my student accounts (in the hundreds) and recreate them. Students were disappointed that all the programming that had completed last year had been erased. I then had to recreate all new accounts for students to use this year (again, in the hundreds, since I teach almost all students in the school). It would be nice if there was some kind of admin console where accounts could be created and managed easily from one school year to the next.
There is a great feature that students can use to rate puzzles, which I showed them how to use. I then asked them to share which puzzles they rated and why. Unfortunately, there seemed to be no way for students or me to see which puzzles they rated. It would also be nice if students could share why they rated a puzzle the way they did (e.g., too hard, confusing, easy, fun, etc.)