Maxim mentioned code.org to me a couple of times last week, but I didn’t have the time to check it out. Today, however, he said that “Learn an hour of code” was his homework for the computer class. That got me quite interested. After all, I was exploring looking for an easy way to get him (and some other kids) into computer programming. We’ve tried bits and pieces of online tutorials here and there, YouTube videos, and I’ve even took a swing at it myself – all for nothing. It was all too boring and broad and it always required plenty of effort to get into.
And I’m happy to report – that’s where Code.org succeded. These guys have found a way to explain things in a very simplistic manner, with immediate practical exercises, which utilize drag-n-drop instead of typing (even a seasoned programmer is rarely a touch typist in my experience), familiar surroundings of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies games, and short, yet motivational explanations of core concepts by computer industry celebrities, like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. There also a familiar gaming incentive to the experience, with badges and achievements, but those aren’t the core motivator.
We’ve spent about an hour with Maxim, going through tutorials and doing exercises. So far, it was a perfect balance of fun and education. But for me, it there was also another important aspect to this. I could finally show to my son what I do at work (well, not exactly what I do, but close enough). Explaining programming with words and showing bits of code and chunks of website never looked too appealing. Now however he has a better idea.
And for the first time he is actually excited about programming. So much in fact that I could barely get him to go to bed. We had to make plans for tomorrow to continue to calm him down a bit.
Thanks code.org! You guys have done an amazing job. Keep it up!