Product Review of Codesters
Codesters is an online platform that teaches Python programming (a popular and professionally used programming language). It features a built-in learning management system (LMS) to assist educators in managing the curriculum and learner learning. Codesters provides authentic coding experiences within a well-designed interactive website. The platform is cluttered, which may be challenging for some learners; however, Codesters looks similar to Python coding platforms that professional programmers use.
Like other coding websites, learners follow scaffolded tutorials to learn coding basics. What makes Codesters stand out is its focus on learning to code in Python. The workspace is centered on a text-based code editor, though learners do have the option to drag commands into the editor, which instantly become text. Learners learn to read, modify, and write their own code using a combination of drag-and-drop tools and typing directly using Python code. Each lesson includes three phases: build, modify, and create. These phases move learners from step-by-step instructions to a blank slate for creating their own projects. Final projects for each lesson are based on real-world scenarios.
Codesters includes a class page where work is shared between classmates for review and remixing. Both the learner and educator dashboards provide clear data; learners can track their progress through each step of the lesson, and educators can drill down into learner data. Codesters also makes it easy to preview each lesson. The Educator Guide and detailed written lessons plans are provided for educators and include standards alignment, learning targets, differentiation ideas, and more.
Educators can use Codesters as a standalone coding tutorial or for whole-class coding instruction. Learners can work through the lessons without much educator support; educators can assign the lessons and let learners move through the tutorials independently as an extension or homework option. Every lesson has a detailed lesson plan and includes an unplugged activity, Quizlet, Kahoot!, and lesson slides.
Naturally, Codesters can serve as the foundation for a coding class. The detailed educator lesson plans can be used to craft a coding unit, which includes direct educator instruction and online learning. The built-in learning management system helps educators plan and track learner learning. Educators can also access answer keys to help with debugging learner code. The system automatically grades learners, making it simple for educators to get a quick understanding of who may need more support.
Regardless of the setting, Codesters is robust enough that educators don’t need to have coding experience. The educator can learn along with the learners or stay a lesson ahead to make sure they feel ready to help learners. Plus, learners can peer review each other’s code. Having the educator more involved with teaching Codesters will help support all learners and take advantage of the site’s opportunities to customize the curriculum.
Codesters is an excellent learning tool but better suited for learners with strong reading skills. Learners program using the tools of professionals, a text-based code editor, and an authentic programming language (Python). The LMS provides useful data; each step of learners’ code is accessible to educators so that they can help troubleshoot or celebrate progress. The comprehensive lesson plans can help educators support their young coders, and the program offers many opportunities for creativity, differentiation, and assessment. Codesters helps learners debug their programming by identifying errors and providing reminders about appropriate syntax.
The flip side of using these text-based tools is that the coding may not be as accessible to all learners. Learners can click a button to listen to instructions, though some learners will need support beyond that.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Each lesson includes customizable, project-based activities. The workspace is colorful and well organized, and helps learners track their progress through the lessons.
Curriculum and Instruction
Users learn to code directly in Python using a code editor. A helpful drag-and-drop toolkit is included, but the actual text code is always front and center. Lessons are well scaffolded and let kids differentiate and create.
Users are guided through each lesson with text-based tutorials, spoken instructions, and color-coded feedback. Codesters works best for strong readers since it’s designed as a text-rich environment.