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Learning Resource: Codecademy

Promoting software development education is something I'm keenly interested in; it seems in some ways that young people are getting less, rather than more, interested in learning how to program. It's a shame, because opportunies are exploding, and it's hard to think of a more recession-proof career.

The good news is that it's getting easier all the time to learn how to code. The resources available are getting better than ever, and I love to highlight them and recommend to others that they do the same.

The one I stumbled across recently was Codecademy. Just for fun, I've gone through a number of the lessons, so I can see for myself how well the courses are put together. Thus far, I'm extremely impressed. The key is that it's very, very easy to get into. You start coding immediately, rather than learning about the history of the language, frameworks and other details that might get in the way of getting your hands dirty. Heck, you don't even learn about adding <script> tags; the entire focus is on writing JavaScript.

I found the lessons easy to follow and didn't spot errors. They build in proper sequential order, and the explanations are clear, if a bit brief on detail. For instance, "for" loops are given a very brief description, and I wonder if total newbies might get a bit stymied. On the whole, though, I think most folks with a little persistence will be able to get through the exercises. Each multi-part lesson also has projects to apply what's learned, and a lab window to build your own JavaScript programs. It's very well done.

On the other hand, things on Codecademy seem to be stagnating a bit, which concerns me. According to the best information I can find, the Website went live last August, with a JavaScript course. The site promises that courses are also coming in Ruby and Python; thus far, however, they're still not available. I've also found some 404 errors. That shouldn't be a big deal; all sites have a few of those -- except that the site is pretty small, and shouldn't be that difficult to maintain. The blog is also not updated frequently.

But for what it offers right now -- JavaScript learning, absolutely free -- Codecademy does very well, and should be an early stop on the road for any non-programmer wanting to learn how to write good JavaScript code.

What are some of your favorite JavaScript resources? Let me know via email or in the comments.

Posted by Keith Ward on 03/15/2012 at 6:30 AM

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