Common Sense Review
Updated April 2016

Mozilla Thimble

Inspiring platform teaches coding through remixing
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Common Sense Rating 4
  • Thimble provides an easy-to-use Web-page-creation platform.
  • Template projects let students edit code on the left side of the page and see the results on the right.
  • Making your own pages is easy with instant feedback.
  • A variety of template projects, such as comics, can be used in all subjects.
  • Examples of projects that students can create are endless.
Pros
Remixable starter projects along with immediate, visual coding feedback guide students toward more sophisticated creations.
Cons
Without any direct instruction, the text-heavy code could discourage some students from jumping in or staying engaged.
Bottom Line
Thimble is an excellent, free resource for teaching students to code through experimentation.
David Thomas
Common Sense Reviewer
Director of academic technology
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

Authentic coding practice comes alive through fun, community-generated projects. Whether kids learn through guided remixing or start a project from scratch, many can find an enjoyable entry point into Web design.

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

Students learn to write and remix their own Web pages with side-by-side windows that instantly show the effects of their tweaks. Great for students who are happy to experiment; those who need HTML instruction should look elsewhere.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 5

Immediate feedback, a supportive community, help text, and tutorials support students throughout the Web-development process.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use Thimble to help students code and show what they've learned through code. However, some teachers may want to provide students with additional lessons and resources outside of Thimble. Mozilla provides other Web tools through the Mozilla Learning Network, all of which could be excellent to use in the classroom. Learning to write HTML for Web pages requires a lot of close reading and attention to grammar and syntax. Modeling how to read and write code is a great way for teachers to communicate to students the importance of analysis and care in reading and writing.

As Web pages, in general, are containers for content, Thimble can offer teachers and students a new place to host multimedia projects, research, or writings. Thimble gives educators and kids an authentic way to publish content-based work. As students become more experienced with HTML through Thimble, teachers will also find that students are ready to create their own free and open multimedia pages and Web portfolios, reducing the need for expensive and "closed" (not remixable) technology purchases for the classroom.

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What's It Like?

Thimble is an online Web page editor and set of remixable projects designed to help students learn how to write the Web. The Web-based program displays two windows at once to show students how the code they write creates the pages they see on a browser. As students edit code in the left window, the changes they make to things such as color, font, and images immediately take effect on the right.

Template projects and teacher supports help bring the often complex code to life quickly. Thimble also lets students compose their own Web pages from scratch, when they're ready to work independently. Using Thimble lets kids experience the joy of discovering that they, too, can create and publish Web pages using authentic code.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Because it's designed to show students how their actions can change the way a Web page looks, Thimble is a great place to get practice with coding, Web design, and problem-solving skills. However, it's important to note that Thimble isn't a resource for direct HTML instruction. This is great for some students, especially those who learn well through experimentation. However, some other students may want a more direct approach, with outside lessons on the specifics of HTML syntax. See Mozilla's Teaching Activities for more support.

For those students who are happy to play and experiment with Web design and remixing projects, Thimble does have supports in place, especially through the online community. As a free, open, and well-supported platform, such as Scratch, Thimble provides one of the most inviting and supportive environments available for students who want to join the learn-to-code movement in an experiential way.

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See how teachers are using Mozilla Thimble

Lesson Plans