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February 24, 2013 / carlispina

A New Option for Learning to Program – LearnStreet

LearnStreetI’ve written about a lot of tools that are available for those who want to learn various computer programming languages and techniques, but I want to take this opportunity to highlight another new tool in this field, LearnStreet. Using LearnStreet, you have the option to learn Python, Ruby or Javascript. The lessons for Python and Javascript include a combination of written instructions, exercises and videos, which I think is a nice mix of options for those with various learning styles. For each of these languages, LearnStreet has developed an impressive array of lessons with 56 exercises for Javascript and 76 exercises on Python. While the Ruby lessons do not currently include videos, there are over 100 exercises to help students to develop their Ruby skills, which makes up, at least partially, for the lack of videos. Lessons for each language are broken first into sections on related topics  and then further subdivided into exercises that can be completed in a short period of time while giving you a quick feeling of accomplishment. Each exercise offers multiple hints if you get stuck and if you have further questions LearnStreet includes a button on each exercise to ask your question via Twitter. As with so many online education systems that have been created recently, LearnStreet also includes elements of gamification with users earning badges for various activities including successful completion of each section. To add to the sense of community on the site, LearnStreet also has a “Codewall” where users can add their profile picture and their personal message to the wall.

Beyond these lessons, LearnStreet also offers a number of other resources including the Code Garage which offers projects that students can complete while they are learning the languages. Multiple projects at various levels from beginner to advanced are available for each of the languages that LearnStreet teaches. These projects let students create working programs to do everything from building a calculator to playing a game of hangman. In addition, LearnStreet has collected helpful tools for new programmers in their DevTools section, which has subsections for general tools as well as those related to each of the languages LearnStreet teaches. This section includes links to tools that help new programmers do everything from debug their code to dealing with version control issues. For experienced programmers who want to help teach others to program, LearnStreet also has a form for those who want to contribute lessons to the site in the future. LearnStreet, which is still in beta, already offers an impressive array of lessons and tools for those interested in learning Python, Javascript or Ruby. I found the lessons to be a good length, well-organized and easy to follow. Over the course of all of the lessons I completed, I never ran into a single problem with the site freezing, slowing down or containing glitches. It is definitely worth considering if you are looking for a way to learn to program.

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