Codetoday is changing. In the past months, I launched two new platforms designed to guide students of all ages to learn to code in Python:
Codetoday Unlimited focusses on Python coding for young people, delivering self-led video courses to teenagers and preteens around the world. Codetoday Unlimited replaces the live lesson programme which will end this month.
The Python Coding Place is a learning platform and a community that caters for adults learning to code.
Live lessons have been a key part of our services since the very first student in April 2016. But Codetoday will no longer offer regular live lessons for children.
Instead, I'll focus on mentoring and teaching learners of all ages who want to learn to code in Python through the two new platforms.
This is a significant change. In this post, I want to clearly convey my vision for children's coding and why I'm making this change to Codetoday.
Children & Teenagers: From Live Lessons to Codetoday Unlimited
The short version: Codetoday's ethos and style represent my vision of how coding should be taught. I want to teach my students directly.
Now, here's the full version: I'll need to start with some history. But I'll keep it brief. I left my previous career as an academic scientist in late 2015. I loved coding and I loved teaching. And I knew I was good at both. So, I started teaching Python coding to children and teenagers in a small corner of North West London. There were four students in total in the first half-term courses I ran in May 2016!
My vision was to teach coding as a serious subject but ensuring it's fun and engaging. This remains my vision for children's coding today. Coding was then, and in many places still is today, taught either in a gimmicky fashion, barely scratching the surface of the key coding concepts, or in a dry and boring style with pointless exercises.
And to be fair, teaching coding properly is difficult. Very difficult. This is why schools struggle to do it justice and either focus on children-specific platforms like Scratch or, when they do teach Python, rarely go beyond the basics.
I promised I'll be brief. Sorry. But the context is important. Let me fast forward. My courses became very popular in my corner of London and across the rest of London. In large part, this was because parents realised that coding is a subject that should be taken seriously. No one was teaching Python as an academic subject while also delivering an engaging curriculum at the time. And still today, the Codetoday curriculum and teaching style stand apart from what kids are normally taught.
Soon I started employing some instructors to help me out. But this was a challenge. Here's why…
What made my courses stand out wasn't just the content of the curriclum I was developing. It was also the style of teaching, the clarity of communication, the ideal blend of instruction and exploration.
I put in a lot of work in training and monitoring new instructors. The handbook we give our instructors is a summary of all these things that are important. Small things, but many of them. All these aspects of the Codetoday style combine to make lessons effective, fun, and engaging.
I've always been very picky with recruiting instructors and continuously monitoring their lessons to make sure they don't deviate from the Codetoday style.
But this wasn't me teaching the children. It was great instructors who were well-trained to teach my curriculum using my guidelines. And this worked well. It made Codetoday a great coding education institution. But I think I'm better suited on the front line, teaching children directly rather than training and monitoring instructors to teach.
In the early years of Codetoday, I taught every one of our students–my students. Success meant that I started teaching fewer and fewer of our students myself until, in the last couple of years, I didn't do any regular teaching at all.
Enter Codetoday Unlimited
The only way to bring Codetoday back to its original intention–a platform for me to share my expertise in programming personally, directly to students, and in my own style–is to move to a self-led suite of courses where I can deliver the content directly to all students through video lessons. I'll also have a direct link with all students and support them through a students' forum.
Our team of instructors did a brilliant job delivering a great coding experience. But Codetoday is a company anchored into my vision of coding education and my teaching style. Continuing to grow by having larger teams of instructors would have diluted this mission.
Who's the ideal Codetoday Unlimited student?
I believe that the new platform will be much better suited for those students who can learn independently and who are motivated to learn coding properly and progress beyond the basics. Students can also progress at a pace suited for them.
I've been teaching Python, writing about Python, and communicating about Python for a long time. Students learning directly from my experience will learn coding at a deeper level. The ideal Codetoday Unlimited student will be a more complete and proficient programmer because of this.
Codetoday Unlimited mirrors the same curriculum I've been crafting and perfecting over the years, which we taught in the live courses. And therefore, it caters for beginners with no prior experience in coding and also those who want to go deeper into intermediate and advanced topics. It has always been important for me to provide challenging advanced topics to students who wish to learn more. Coding courses for children often stop at the basics. Our curriculum at Codetoday always went deeper and further than anyone else's.
Codetoday Unlimited will carry on this philosophy.
Adult Coding Education
Most coding educators either teach children or adults. I've been in the rather unique position to teach both groups for almost a decade. It wasn't uncommon for me to run a session with seven-year olds, helping them draw a cute flower, and then run a session later in the same evening with financial analysts at an investment bank. Teaching children has helped me get better at teaching adults, and vice versa!
In recent years, I've been very active in the international Python community as a leading educator, mostly through my written work.
I have now also launched a platform for adults who want to learn to code: The Python Coding Place. The rationale behind this platform is similar to the teenagers' platform–I want to reach learners across the world directly. The Python Coding Place includes video courses but also live cohort courses and workshops. And of course, I'll carry on writing my regular articles and tutorials for the international Python community.
Codetoday now moves on to a new phase. It started with me teaching a few people in my small corner of the world. Over the years, our team grew. Events of March 2020 shifted the focus away from in-person lessons, which allowed us to reach a wider audience. Now, I'm back to the original setup where I teach people directly. But now, my audience is spread in every corner of the world!