Codecademy: Free Online Computer Programming Lessons

Codecademy is a relatively new online platform that offers free computer programming lessons. Headquartered in New York City, the site is run by CEO Zach Sims and CTO Ryan Bubinski, both 22. Sims dropped out of Columbia University to focus on launching the venture, while Bubinski graduated from Columbia with a degree in computer science and biophysics. They say “Codecademy is the easiest way to learn how to code.” It’s meant to show people that programming can be fun, and you can even do it with your friends. Codecademy offers programming lessons for languages like Python and Javascript, as well as markup languages including HTML and CSS.

After launching Codecademy during the tail end of a 2011 summer program, Sims and Bubinski stayed up for nearly three days in order to keep up with traffic – the website attracted 200,000 users within 72 hours of launching. Codecademy now claims “millions” of students who have collectively completed over 50 million interactive exercises. Since opening up the website for course creation in February, over 25,000 people have created their own programming lessons. Commenting on his firm’s investment in the company, Saul Perkins of Index Ventures reflected, “My thesis is that 21st century parents should teach their kids three languages: English, Mandarin and coding. Software is so much a part of our lives to today that this is just a fundamental skill that people need.”

Codecademy’s popularity is partly due to the “game mechanics” designed to keep learners motivated. Like any well-designed video game, the first few levels are fast and easy enough to be fun without feeling like work. The site offers encouraging feedback, badges for completing exercises, as well as a function that keeps track of a user’s total score and displays it to others. Unlike most other “gamification” gimmicks, the badges are actually pegged to real accomplishments (“Hey, I learned how to spawn a dialog box!”). These can be shared with other coders on the site or on social media. Writing computer code no longer has to be a boring, solitary, lonely activity – it can be an entertaining social activity!

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See also: A Day in the Life of Codecademy’s 22-Year-Old Co-Founder

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