Code School is a great platform if you are looking to find a way to learn coding skills in web development and hard programming. There are a myriad of online ways to accomplish this task. Code School just makes it fun and more accessible to the average user, and helps them fill in gaps in their skill set or gain a new skill set from the ground up. Their interface is well-designed, their lessons employ stories that make learning entertaining, and cater to developers that are short on time. Whether you have no skills at all or are looking to refine the skills you already have, you will find the hands-on resources at Code School rewarding.
What separates Code School from its peers is its roots in education. Code School can boast a parent company, Pluralsight, that is an actual training and development consultancy business. They create training programs for major tech corporations. After determining what the heavy hitters in the industry needed of a programmer, they took this information and created Code School, that provides the same level of training expected of large, publicly traded corporations.
Their experience in helping clients teach a wide audience in-depth technological concepts is apparent. Code School uses friendly teaching styles and their user interfaces are easy to grasp. This appeals to a wide base of students. Challenges in the curriculum have themes and are integrated into a video game atmosphere.
Code School Overview
Deciding to enroll in online coding courses for fee is a big commitment, requiring months to over a year to complete an entire round of coursework. Therefore, it is recommended that you take the time to figure out whether the school is right for you. Code School is geared toward more intermediate to advanced learners; however, many beginning learners will find the course work easy enough to maneuver. The advanced content may take extra time to achieve. The best course of action is to attempt Code School before paying by trying one of their introductory courses that is free.
Free Learning Modules
Students should take advantage of the fact that Code School offers several tracks of free content to make sure there is a good learner/educator fit. There are a wide range of these; they are typically entry-level although some are advanced such as Objective-C and Rails Testing. Other modules include:
- Chrome Dev-tools
- Objective C
- R language
One okay benefit is that Codeschool has taken the time to put together free courses as a way to encourage people to sign up. They hit the most common coding language as listed above and some other not as popular ones like Git or Elixir. Below depicts all the most common programming languages and how many courses they already made for you to dive into.
If you are looking for the full Code School experience without the cost, you should consider trying one or more of these examples, especially in a “hard programming” language such as Ruby or a backend language such as jQuery. These examples start easy, and show the way that Code School presents its content and its teaching methodologies. Even a beginner should be able to navigate the free modules with relative ease.
Code School courses are not just all doing or all classroom. They use a mix of media and code challenges to bring a concept to the learner and help learn concepts of coding and design. Lessons are clear, well-defined, understandable even for a beginner, and provide entertainment value which is essential when you are learning for long stretches.
This helps build engagement, which is probably the greatest value in the lessons, as engagement is a benchmark of how likely a student is to complete a course of study. This method of teaching is used throughout all the Code School courses and is easy to adopt with or without programming experience.
Gregg Pollack, Code School’s founder, understands the importance of multidisciplinary education. His statements on Code School’s website emphasize an attitude of learning through multiple means: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, verbal. It’s these tenets and the Code School axiom of “learning by doing” that have made it effective. All courses reflect this mentality and as such are engaging to the learner, regardless of their learning style.
Repetition and interposing concepts is another way Code School drives the lesson home. By the time you have completed a learning module, you will have used the same concept in multiple lessons many different ways. This ensures that you learn the concept, and are not just introduced to it and left to learn how to apply it on your own.
Code School has 4 core paths to choose from, each with approximately 5-10 courses. Each course starts with an introduction that is basic and ends with more difficult exercises and application. Within these paths there are multiple courses. Each has 6-8 levels, each containing 6-9 code console (IDE style) challenges. Each unit is treated as though it was a level in a game.
Short videos introduce each course, each from 4 – 20 minutes in length. They are informative, easy to comprehend, and entertaining. Each course has its own theme and theme song. This is all part of keeping the material fun to use and entertaining.
Videos are taught by different instructors each whom specializes in a different aspect of coding. As is the case with any learning setting, some instructors are more effective than others, but all the videos are highly informative and provide a large amount of digestible information into a short time frame.
The videos start with an introduction of what is being introduced, followed by some demonstrations. These demonstrations weave the new material into previously used material, often to fix some material error in code, and help show the learner the use of the newly learned information immediately.
Another purpose of the demonstrations is to show best practices in writing the code in the first place rather than writing dirty code and having to go back and fix it or worse having to debug ugly code. These demonstrations are a means to carry the lessons learned over to real world situations.
When it comes to the challenges, you will apply the concepts you just learned by either creating your own lines of code or refactoring inadequate or poorly written code. The split screen console acts as a text editor on one side while the other half of the screen displays the corresponding output.
This is extremely helpful as you can see your output and identify problems as you work through the challenges. If you get stuck on a challenge, the interface allows you to easily navigate back to the presentation slides and video for reference. If you’re still stuck after that, you can unlock hints to help guide you in the right direction.
Further material includes code challenges, which are console-based code examples that you must analyze and either add code or fix to complete the challenge. If you become stuck, there is a hint button that will give you help. These challenges provide a hands-on method to become familiar with the code first-hand and apply it in a realistic fashion.
In addition to the learning material, Code School also has a robust user forum for providing help navigating, engaging, and completing the lessons presented. Discussions are tagged and separated by topic and easy to navigate. The search feature is useful as it is highly likely you are not the first person who has had the problem you are trying to solve, but if not the board is active and most questions get answered within a day. Questions are typically answered in a thorough, thoughtful manner and not in a general manner that has become common in other discussion panels.
Code School is a good resource for coders looking to learn or improve their skills on the offerings Code School presents. Its engaging nature, video and electronic learning, and engaging themes help keep you coming back to learn. The major complaint is the breadth of content offered; now, there are not as many offerings as major competitors in the online education universe. It is adequate in the four core areas it has chosen to address, but it is not a one-size-fits-all learning environment although adding content vigorously seems to be in the works.
While it may be a bit much for novice developers, if you have experience as a developer it is a great place to further your education and at $29 a month is a relatively inexpensive way to do it. It is also ideal for someone who doesn’t have all the time they would like at any one time to offer to their studies. You can pick up and put down Code School as you see fit. While they attempt to cater to most learning styles, Code School is geared toward visual learners.
For a more take things at your own pace, we recommend Treehouse Learning as its a tad cheaper than Code School and offers more learning Modules. If you want something even cheaper (in the $19 range) with a course that has proven track records, I suggest you take a look a Udemy as Industry professionals are the only ones teaching courses there at the most affordable rate online today.