Internet education giant Khan Academy is venturing into new territory: Interactive, graphics-based online programming courses available for web and mobile. The new Khan Academy Computer Science courses, which are launching today, brings Khan Academy into direct competition with established free learn-to-code sites such as Codecademy and Programr. Khan Academy’s programming courses are aimed at absolute beginners, and teach users how to make simple drawings and artwork via code.
The curriculum for students on Khan Academy sticks to the basics of coding. Students in the course are guided through creating simple programs to create pictures and animation, while covering topics like reading documentation, variables, mouse interaction, if statements, and boolean logic. Don’t know what any of that means? That’s why you need to take the class. Development for the computer science project started in late October 2011, with primary development by Resig, Jessica Liu (of Brown University), and Jamie Wong (of Waterloo University). Although development started in late 2011, the platform was built relatively quickly; according to Resig, most of the development process consisted of testing "with people of all ages and skill levels" in order to fine-tune the learn-to-code environment.
Learning how to code has become a hot educational commodity. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg recent promised to learn how to code via Codecademy, and high-profile initiatives like Code Year have been evangelizing the virtues of basic coding nationwide. Individual proponents such as Douglas Rushkoff and Farhad Manjoo (a Fast Company contributor) have also been instrumental in getting the word out.