Common Sense Review
Updated April 2013

Hackety Hack

Download with decent intro to coding basics that kids can test
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Common Sense Rating 3
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 3
  • The order of the site’s lesson list differs from the list of lessons in the application.
  • Kids can click through the lessons within the application.
  • Kids can view a Cheat Sheet of terms and examples when they get stuck.
  • Users are encouraged to test out programming by typing in examples from the text.
  • Users can also ask questions on the site, which other users may respond to.
Easy-to-follow instructions can help kids get a general understanding of how programming works; examples let them test out what they're learning.
The instruction is clear enough for kids to grasp the basic concepts, but they’ll likely need help creating designs of their own.
Bottom Line
Hackety Hack is an excellent source of basic programming information that can help kids build logic skills, but some content may be too complex for younger users to fully understand on their own.
Erin Brereton
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

Kids can test examples, which should make them feel involved. But they don't receive individual feedback or instruction, which would help them understand programming on a deeper level (and prevent them from getting confused).

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Kids learn how to write and save simple code examples. Content progresses from basic to slightly more complex concepts but doesn't constantly offer new challenges; for further learning, kids have access other sites or ask users questions.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 2

Kids can check out an FAQ or submit questions on the site for other community members (and possibly a site administrator) to answer. Links to other sites provide some extra Ruby and other programming information

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Although kids may benefit from working through the sections as teacher-guided lessons and testing out the code examples, educators could also use the lessons as reading assignments to help kids learn about programming. Both kids and teachers can find additional help and inspiration by checking out other users’ completed programs on the website and posing questions to the community. The site and corresponding application can help kids strengthen other skills, including critical thinking, logic, and using sequential order to give instruction and complete tasks.

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What's It Like?

Hackety Hack is a downloadable application that provides basic instruction to help kids learn the Ruby programming language. The application and site both offer four programming lessons for teachers to share or have kids review individually. Older middle school kids and high schoolers new to programming would benefit from the tools' general programming tips and basic instructions on types of coding. Students read what steps to take and then test them out by copying and pasting examples from the text. In order to post questions and share programs on the website, students will need to register. Kids probably won't be able to create their own website after using Hackety Hack, but the information they learn can help them understand a bit about programming.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Students should start with an application tour, as the app lesson list suggests, or the basic programming info section since some of the structure and term information is mentioned in other lessons. (The website's lesson section suggests looking at Ruby info first, but that wouldn't be as helpful.) Kids should then be able to move on to learning about Ruby programming and Shoes, which is an advanced toolkit that helps kids build graphic user interface (GUI) items, such as a website button or including a photo on a page.


Overall, the site is structured and written in a way that's easy to understand. Step by step, kids learn how to write a few types of simple code. A casual, conversational tone directly addresses them with detailed directions. Kids get hands-on instruction by copying the examples, pasting them into the application window, and testing the result. Summaries at the end of each lesson recap what kids learned.

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See how teachers are using Hackety Hack