Self Teach Coding: Should you use Codecademy?

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What started the path of building websites as a career for me was a university project. Our class were tasked to build our own websites using HTML & CSS. While I found the project fascinating, there were two major problems with their method of teaching us to code:

  1. The deadline for the website project was very short
  2. The lectures on HTML & CSS were slow and boring

I knew that wasting my time in lectures hoping the learning process would improve was not a solution. What I did next was something anybody would do; I went to my laptop and googled ‘how to code HTML & CSS’. That’s when I learned about Codecademy.

 

Codecademy: The Leaders in Online Coding

Codecademy is a free online education website that’s dedicated to teaching people about coding languages. Whether you’re a first time coder or wanting to expand your coding knowledge, Codecademy is the place to have an interactive education experience. As of 2018, you can learn all these coding languages on this one website:

  • HTML & CSS
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • SQL
  • Bash/Shell
  • Ruby

 

Layout & Structure of Interactive Learning 

Let’s quickly run through how Codecademy lessons work.

When selecting a coding language to learn, you’re given a syllabus and time frames of how many hours each lesson takes. Once you click the introduction of the syllabus, you’re brought to a new page with instructions, a coding terminal and a window showing your coding results. The classes consist of reading through the instructions, inputting what you’re told into the coding terminal and clicking the button at the bottom to be graded and continue to the next section. After completing a few sections, you’ll be ask to create things based off the coding knowledge you recently learnt. If you ever get stuck on a task, they provide useful hints to help you remember what to do next.

 

Thoughts on Codecademy: The Positives 

Codecademy breaks down information into easily consumable sections. Their step by step teaching allows people to better to understand what each coding element does, why it’s used and the results it creates when used correctly. What makes this platform so successful is how it makes computer coding approachable.

When looking at any coding language for the first time, it can be confusing and intimidating to try and understand. This makes bringing new people into coding difficult since they perceive it to be too complex for them. Codecademy was able to successful make a learning platform which introduces coding in a different way. Instead of complex and difficult, they’re able to make learning to code easy and understandable. The introduction to coding is made even more powerful as Codecademy is free to use. You don’t need to purchase anything from Codecademy to get any of the courses available.

Approachable learning combined with a universally affordable price point makes Codecademy by far the best learning tool available for coding languages.

 

Thoughts on Codecademy: The Negatives 

With all my praise out of the way, this method is not the perfect way to learn coding. In fact, I will say that using this alone won’t make you an expert. A key problem with Codecademy is that it doesn’t help users to understand the mindset of a professional coder.

As a coder, you have to be able to understand what you’re creating, break that down into sections and then translate what you want into a coding language. This concept is difficult to grasp when using Codecademy as they put coding into bit-size pieces which is only good for understanding the fundamentals. On top of that, you’re always looking into how to fixes issues such as bugs and error messages. This process can be frustrating as you end up staring at blocks of code for hours, testing different elements in order to find what the issue is. Codecademy’s syllabus doesn’t address this vital element of being a professional coder.

For me, understanding the mindset of a coder didn’t happen until I was actually working for companies and getting real experience with projects. Codecademy does offers premium memberships which gives you access to professional developers for guidance, provides projects to test your skills and other useful learn support tools. However, looking solely at the free education experience of Codecademy, there’s a lack of presenting the realistic applications and problems of working with coding languages.

 

The Verdict 

When using Codecademy, it took me a few days to complete the HTML & CSS courses. Afterwards, I was able to tackle my website project while my fellow classmate were still dealing with slow coding lectures. Even though the results of my first website weren’t the best, I felt that I accomplished something new. In the end, this was the most effective way I was able to learn how to code. Codecademy is easy to understand and creates learning environment which helps you fully digest the information in a interactive way. I can say that because of Codecademy, I was able to figure out what step to bring my career towards. If you’re someone who wants to start learning to code, then Codecademy is the perfect first step to take.

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