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February 2, 2012 / carlispina

Code Year: Week 4 – Some Interesting Improvements

This week’s Code Year assignment is worthy of a new review because it includes some improvements that I think many participants will appreciate. Week 4 of Code Year focuses on going back to the basics. It reviews much of the material that has already been covered in the first three weeks of Code Year and goes into more depth about some of these topics, leaving participants with a more nuanced understanding of some topics that were covered quickly in previous lessons. The lesson did a good job of referencing past exercises to help participants to better understand what they had been learning over the past several weeks of Code Year. Given comments I have read that some participants felt that it was difficult to tie all of the covered material together, I think that this will be a welcome development for many.

With this week’s project, Code Year also took a slightly different approach by asking participants to work through questions while hiding the answers and the instructions for completing the exercise in the hint section of each exercise. This makes it easier to develop an answer to each question before actually seeing the answer. It also encourages participants to focus on fully understanding the material rather than just getting the “right answer”. Given that there can often be several answers of varying quality that will technically work, this approach will likely help participants to develop a more lasting understanding of the concepts that are being taught.

In addition to taking a slightly different teaching approach, Codecademy also added a couple of new, and very useful, features. Perhaps most importantly, the code editor now indicates where errors are in the code with small x’s or yield signs next the line with the issue.  Even better, when you click on these indicators additional information pops up to help you identify and fix the issue. Another new feature is a reset button on each exercise that makes it easier to revert back to the starting code if you encounter issues in your own code. Taken together these changes improve Codecademy lessons and show that they are responding to comments from Code Year participants. It makes me even more interested in seeing what they will offer in future lessons.

Beyond Code Year, Codecademy is also continuing to develop.  As they announced on Monday, any user can now create their own lessons and these lessons can go beyond JavaScript to include lessons on Ruby and Python as well. This new feature will help Codecademy to expands its audience and to more rapidly increase the number of lessons to which users have access. I think most users will find these to be welcome changes. So far, Codecademy has been doing a good job of expanding their service in a very short period of time.

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2 Comments

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  1. Andromeda / Feb 2 2012 9:26 am

    I am so totally impressed with their — service? engagement? responsiveness? adaptability? Not sure what the right word is here. But it’s great!

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