Crowdsourcing education with Codecademy


Over the years education has seen a lot, and at the same time little change. One of the initiatives that seems very succesful in redesigning the shape of 21st century education is the Codecademy. But its more than just a philantropic endeavour…

Founded in August 2011 by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, the platform started with free online tutorials in which anyone could start to learn JavaScript. Soon after its start it had already attracted about half a million users and already a thousand developers had added content to the website. The Codecademy has grown extensively, and more than 24 millions of users today. Now Codecademy also provides tutorials in the programming languages jQuery, PHP, Python, and Ruby, and the markup languages CSS and HTML. Over the years not only the amount of programming languages increased, the amount of courses grew into thousands. Now the Codecademy also found its way to the mobile apps for iPhone and iPad providing the possibility to learn to code wherever you go.

How does it work?
Part of the content is generated by the Codecademy itself, while its users are also able to generate content and give feedback on each other’s work. When users have succesfully completed an excercise they receive rewards in the form of badges. An added benefit for the company is that users seem to experience a sense of achievement which they then can happily communicate on Facebook and Twitter, thereby creating more buzz and attracting more potential users. For the users that struggle a bit more with succesfully completing excercises there is the possibility to receive help from a vast amount of peer users and the forum.

The business side of free education
Recently the Codecademy announced a collaboration with the UK government to bring programming to the classroom. This can be seen as an attempt of the UK government to invest in its future work force. The Codecademy is a way for teachers to efficiently provide their students with material to work on, thus giving the Codecademy more content to provide to its users in an economical fashion. What seems like another noble effort to provide accessible education to everyone, is in addition also a platform for external companies to recruit their much wanted programming talent.
Following the line of thought of Malhone et al. (2010), useres are motivated by love, glory, and in an indirect sense also money, providing enough incentives that enables the platform to be such a success. Love, when users want to learn to program, glory when they achieve badges as they progress, and potentially money when they have gained enough progress and skills to be selected for certain jobs. Although the latter won’t be the motivation of most of the millions of users, investers see potentially more in the platform that has succesfully attracted millions in funding.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s