Programming doesn't quite come across as a social activity, but Codecademy is hoping to change that with the launch of their new Course Creator platform. Rather than providing a standard course to all users, Course Creator crowdsources the coursework to users all over the world.
By allowing anyone to become a programming teacher, Course Creator makes it possible for users to learn about a much wider variety of languages (having focused on Java thus far, they're now introducing Ruby and Python) and methods, not to mention a ton of different approaches to learning. Whether or not this is a good thing remains to be seen.
In a conversation with Techcrunch, Codecademy co-founder Zach Sims said that the idea of crowdsourcing their courses came from the requests they started getting from teachers and professional programmers back when they launched the company in the summer of 2011.
The tools used for creating courses are basically the same tools that the Codecademy team uses to create their own official curriculum, which means that user created courses won't seem dumbed down compared to in-house contributions.
The one thing that will make a lot of people nervous about the new service is that there is no approval process involved in creating a new course. Anyone can make a course and Codecadmy will host it for them, and the course creator can share links to it with anyone they want. Balancing this out, Codecademy will have a screening process for the courses before they can be distributed to the masses on the home page.
This means that crappy lessons, or good lessons designed for very specific people (think of the classroom applications) won't get shoved in the face of the average user.
By opening up content creation to anyone, Codecademy hopes to make it possible for even more people to learn how to program in a friendly environment. The company's six employees couldn't have created the comprehensive collection of lessons that they're hoping to offer on their own, and without the budget to hire a large staff, they turned to the masses. Who knows, if the right minds join in, Codecademy could well become one of the easiest places to start programming.