Review by Stephanie Trautman, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2015

Vidcode

Cool coding tool tuned to teen girls' passions aids creativity

Subjects & skills
Skills
  • Communication & Collaboration
  • Creativity

Subjects
  • Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
8-12
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Pros: Allows for quick creation, using girls' own photos and videos for built-in engagement and a personal touch.

Cons: Videos take a while to upload, and there's an assumption of some prior knowledge of coding without much introductory help.

Bottom Line: Learn-to-code programs for youths often too narrowly define what can be done with code; Vidcode expands the options, helping girls see code's value in culture and express themselves.

Teachers can use Vidcode as an independent assignment for girls to explore coding. Assign projects on Vidcode to assess learning -- e.g., asking students to make a stop-motion video of a topic you studied in class. Or, use Vidcode as a go-to tool to boost your beginning coders' skills with Java and HTML5. Vidcode would also fit perfectly in a STEM or STEAM classroom to build skills for student creation, computer science, and digital media writ large. If teachers want to keep going with the program, there are pay versions available with more support and advanced projects.

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Vidcode is a site that aims to get teen girls excited about coding by emphasizing creativity and social media culture and expression. Users can upload their own photos and videos and use pre-made effects to create projects such as stop-motion videos, music videos, memes, and much more, all while learning about the code that makes these things possible. When users create their accounts, they can choose to link their Facebook or Instagram accounts to grab photos and videos to use in their projects.

When students log in, they’ll see two screens in a project: a lesson on the left and a space to input code on the right. Students can experiment with code, and the lesson screen offers hints on how to change the coding to see subtle and dramatic changes occur in the project. Students can then share their projects and videos with their friends or teacher, making the coding experience a social one.

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Vidcode is a great tool for students to get started with coding. While its developers' main goal is to get girls passionate about coding from an early age, the tool is appropriate for any teenager learning to code. The site uses JavaScript5 (to create video filters) and HTML5 (to control how the videos on Vidcode look). These two technologies are great introductions to coding, and the site gives helpful hints on how to use these types of code,  as well as how slight changes to the code can make big real-time differences to the project at hand. It's especially great that students can pull in videos and photos from their own social media sites (Facebook and Instagram); even though videos can take a long time to upload to the site, this feature builds genuine buy-in and investment for high school students.

The lessons assume some knowledge of basic coding terms, so very beginning users may need a little more guidance along the way. Unfortunately, basic coding info isn't easy to come by on the website. More help functions, a user guide, glossary, or the ability to ask questions to a person in real time would be helpful improvements to an already powerful learning experience. 

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Overall Rating

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

By creating music videos, filters, stop-motion videos, and memes, girls see code's relevance to things they love and are naturally motivated.

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

Helpful hints peppered through each lesson allow girls to understand coding basics. Sharing creations empowers girls to express themselves. Advanced lessons require a price quote.

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

Lessons assume some knowledge of coding, so users who don't know anything about coding may get a little lost and find few places for help. They can email questions, but more instant feedback would be helpful.


Common Sense Reviewer
Stephanie Trautman Classroom teacher

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