Codecademy took off earlier this year when they launched CodeYear in last December. The campaign tapped into people’s desire to make resolutions for the new year. New York City mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, announced that he was signing up. Within seven hours of launching CodeYear, Codecademy the mayor was joined by 16,000 new sign-ups and CodeYear now boasts a roster of over 400,000 students. Each Monday, registered students receive an email announcing a new module for them to tackle over the coming week.
The service is not without its critics, however. Given the way the courses are designed, it is possible to get stuck and not know how to move forward in the track. Although it may feel like you are being coached along as you learn the programming language of your choice, the truth is that your coach is simply a unit test that can only tell you you whether or not you got the answer correct and provide a vague error message in the event that you didn’t.
A vibrant community of budding coders has sprung up to fill that void. Codecademy enthusiasts have been meeting once a month to compare notes, swap tips, and discuss their progress on the weekly challenges at the Codecademy headquarters in lower Manhattan. In addition, Q&A forums are built into each module and allow struggling programmers to get support from fellow students.
Codecademy has rolled out features to help students maintain their motivation and reduce the number of dropouts from the CodeYear program. One such innovation is a new feature that rewards students with points for maintaining a streak. The streak remains unbroken as long as the student logs in and completes one exercise every day. In addition, students can earn badges upon completion of a module and points to encourage friendly competition with their friends and colleagues.