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January 16, 2014 / carlispina

Practice JavaScript With CodeCombat

CodeCombatInterest in computer programming skills has increased at all age levels in recent years. Most recently, the Hour of Code 2013 initiative encouraged teachers to spend at least one hour introducing their students to computer programming skills. One of the tools highlighted is CodeCombat.

Rather than focusing on gamified lessons, CodeCombat instead focuses on a more traditional combat game that makes use of JavaScript. In each level, the game describes the goals to the player through a brief video and dialogue. Then the player is tasked with making use of snippets of code or “spells” to achieve the goals of the level. Players can choose either the single player or multiplayer mode. If you opt for multiplayer mode, you get a link that you can share with another player so that you can compete head-to-head. As of now, there are ten beginner levels, five more difficult levels, and two player-created levels. While levels don’t automatically start with code lessons, they do have a “guide” that players can click on to see an overview of the learning goals of the level and an explanation of the JavaScript used in the level. As of right now, the guide sections aren’t robust enough to allow players to learn JavaScript from this tool alone and there are only a few levels at this point, but it is a fun practice tool and with more levels being created all the time, its usefulness is sure to increase over time. One benefit of this tool over others is that users do not need to create accounts to play, which makes it even more attractive for classroom use (though it is possible to create an account if you would like to save your progress). Also, CodeCombat has made all of their code open source and has mechanics for users to create their own levels, both of which make it an interesting platform for teachers who want to build their own content or more advanced students who want to try creating levels instead of or in addition to playing them. Teachers may also want to check out the teachers’ page, which provides information about the game and a checklist for those interested in using it in their classroom. There is also a forum for users who have questions, comments or suggestions for CodeCombat’s creators.

CodeCombat is a cute game to supplement JavaScript lessons, particularly for students. If you teach coding in your class, it is definitely worth trying. If you are looking for other options for learning or teaching computer programming skills, check out my November 2013 article in C&RL News, which describes several alternatives.

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