Codecademy is built around user-generated content, and provides training to students all around the world. The company states that they are wary of traditional educational models, which seem to be growing increasingly irrelevant as the world becomes more and more technologically savvy. At first glance, it seems that all modern companies claim something similar, so what is it that makes Codecademy different?
Codecademy claims they are committed to creating the best learning experience possible. The company backs up their assertion by providing hands-on, modern and engaging content, which is created by implementing cues from popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Zynga. They accomplish this by fostering community interaction, where users can not only learn from a wide variety of courses, but can also create their own for subjects they’re proficient in.
To begin using Codecademy, you will first need to sign up for your free account, after which you gain immediate access. To begin using their extensive library of content, simply click on the subjects of your choice, which are split into as many as 12 subsections, ranging from introductory to advanced.
After selecting an exercise, you will be taken to a screen that provides a set of instructions and the ability to write your own code, a glossary of terms, as well as a live demonstration of what you’re working on, which is where Codecademy earns its reputation for interactive and engaging content. Despite this, some users may find the lack of audio and visual accompaniment, as featured on competitor’s sites such as Lynda.com and Team Treehouse, to be somewhat of a detraction.
Before, during, and after an exercise, Codecademy offers a Q&A feature, which allows users to receive answers to their questions, as well as to provide answers to questions asked by others. You will also receive a “badge of achievement” showing course completion alongside your username, which is visible to other members. At this point, you can interact with other users via the interactive forum, where you can further share your skillset and achievements.
Why is Codecademy Free?
Codecademy is backed by a variety of investors, and as a result they do not charge a fee for any of their courses, nor do they ask for donations. According to the company’s website, they are looking into future revenue models, but fully intend to remain privately funded, as well as free of charge for all their users.
Although this may seem unusual in today’s profit-driven era, there have been no reports of “quality-compromised” content, nor any indications of scamming.
- Wide variety of learning opportunities within the programming industry, completely free of charge.
- All content is user-generated, allowing extensive communication between users.
- Earn achievement badges, show off your knowledgebase, and interact with other members via the online forum.
- No visuals or audio for exercise accompaniment as there are with competitors such as Lynda.com or Team Treehouse, which may present an issue for some individuals.
Not New User Friendly - Bugs Galore
First off, let me say that I am relatively new to coding. Been working on it for about two months, off and on, all I have done is basics to HTML and Python (and about 15-16 pages of notes). That being said, my review is just from a new user/Python perspective.
So Code Academy was initially very appealing. I was getting badges, it saves your progress, offers hints and solutions, it seemed very inviting/easy to get started learning about things, it essentially has training wheels (and I needed those a bit) and most importantly it was free.
But imagine a free sample in a grocery store. You plop it in your mouth and are initially satisfied, but then it tastes awful. You start gagging, you double over and everyone around you stops their carts to look at you. After crumpling to the floor, blue faced, you contemplate, “Should I buy this product?”
That is exactly how my experience went. I was thinking about paying for Code Academy over the summer when I would have more time to work at the lessons, but the more I did them in my downtime, the more it became like I was a debugger getting paid $0 an hour. I started encountering lesson ruining elements every single step of the way. Needless to say, I am not considering that option anymore.
Essentially the free sample sucks and you have to make it good for people to want to buy your product. Now let me say why I came to this conclusion in my experience.
1 - Lack of Community
I understand that there are some elements I probably would not get until I pay but at the same time, the community seemed bleak and disconnected. I made a number of posts on the forums, staying highly positive, and I never got a helpful reply. I had staff hide my posts a couple of times though. Hh, I did get one response, but it was essentially trying to crush my enthusiasm, and well yeah, the community was a real let down.
2 - Poorly Designed Lessons
I have a Master's in Education and I have taught for seven years. Lesson planning is kind of a big thing for me. That being said I cannot tell you how many times the instructions said something along the lines of "Why don't you try using (thing you have never learned or been taught before)." Literally, a number of lessons ask new coders, such as myself, to use things in lessons that they never introduced in the first place. This really really a simple lesson planning 101 flaw that could easily be corrected, but alas it has not.
3 - Lackluster Hints and Support
Again, being new to coding, when I have somebody saying syntax error to my face, I do not know what I need to fix. Now Code Academy has one great feature (until it is not), the "Solution" button. After enough banging your head into a wall, you can click to see the solution, an exemplary, which is great for learning purposes, but even this is broken in the later lessons.
All of a sudden perfect answers have errors and there is absolutely no explanation for that. Also, you can click on hints for the problem you are on and in a number of hints I have gotten “Have you tried adding numbers?” or a comment of the sort (no, I am not kidding, most of the hints are nigh insulting). I have found a couple of solutions through the forums, but remember my first point.
4 - Bugs
Just a ton of them. I have had lessons where I type “f*** this buggy a** lesson” and I get a check mark and moved onto the next page. Now their staff seems to be fixing things, but I have also heard that there are probably more fixes beyond the “pay wall.” Again, from above, the free sample has to be good otherwise you will get users like me fleeing Code Academy.
So do not get me wrong, I think it is great to have a free resource out there and I got a basic knowledge of some coding principles from this, I am thankful to Code Academy for this. I also hope that they use my review and others to improve their service, but when it comes to the quality of the service, I am seriously doubtful that the things I am learning are actually correct because the service is so flawed, so so flawed, that I have a hard time figuring out if it is me or Code Academy.
All in all, this means Code Academy is a great place to get your feet wet, but not a great place to stay. I am looking into Khan Academy, Udemy, Coursera, EdX and others to see what else I can do to further my learning.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
3 out 3 people found this review helpful
A quality FREE educational website! However…
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend
7 out 7 people found this review helpful
Amazing free resource
I used Codecademy to learn the basics of HTML and CSS. The lessons are very well structured and the app is really thought through. Learning is easy and even fun.
And considering that it's free, I am really surprised by the high quality and the benefit that I was able to get out of it.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend