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Part 3 of my Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012 series

Code Year


It was sheer marketing genius: the announcement on January 1 by the learn-to-program startup Codecademy that 2012 should be “Code Year.”

With an initiative timed with the making of New Year’s resolutions (and timed too to coincide with a narrative about a shortage of programmers), Codecademy encouraged people to make this the year they learned to program. Sign up for an email newsletter, the startup said, and it would send you one a lesson from the Codeacademy site per week for the entire year. And some 400,000 folks took them up on the offer, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.


Code Year earned Codecademy a lot of press. Slate. The New Yorker. CNN. The New York TimesTechcrunch. Mashable. And the startup parlayed the buzz into a $10 million Series B funding round in August, also expanding its lessons into other languages beyond its initial Javascript tutorials.

Despite the excitement from the tech press and investors, many of my concerns about the effectiveness of Codecademy remain. (My post from its Series A round of funding last year where I detail these concerns remains the most trafficked post on Hack Education.) Has Codecademy successfully taught people to program this year? 400,000 sign-ups in January is one measurement of success, to be sure; but it doesn't seem like the most important one here (hint: it's more to do with learning outcomes come December.)

And if nothing else, traffic to the Codecademy site suggests that, like most New Year’s resolutions, some of the initial excitement about Code Year quickly died off.

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Audrey Watters


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