Codecademy – Helpful or Not?

There’s been a lot of buzz over the last few months about a start-up that is supposed to make programming easy to learn and available to anyone. It’s an interactive web coursethat has you writing bits of code straight away called Codecademy.

For all its’ fans (500k signups including Mayor Bloomberg, 12k Facebook ‘likes,’ and 31kTwitter followers), there are mixed opinions on just how helpful it really is.

It’s interactive, the lessons simple enough with step-by-step instructions and hints if you get stuck, and you get merit badges to show your progress. But how many people with no/minimal prior programing knowledge can sit down and build something once they’ve gone through all their lessons? From reviews and articles, it doesn’t seem that many can.

When the site was first launched, the biggest issue was the amount of lessons available, there just wasn’t that many. The strings of code that are taught in the beginning aren’t reinforced enough, that is to say, this code comes up in one (~5 step) lesson then doesn’t show up again till a few lessons later after you’ve forgotten all about it. The other issue was that it was limited to JavaScript only. Now there’s “HTML & CSS Overview” lessons in addition to JavaScript, but again, not that many.

So it’s “fun,” has an appealing user interface and boosts our egos with merits, but if you’re looking to really learn programming, Codecademy isn’t going to get you very far. It’s a fun took but most helpful to those with existing programming knowledge.

Visit the site here, test it out (its free) and let us know what you think!

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