We’ve had a tonne of fun coming up with our new “Interactive Web Pages with JavaScript” course. This course has been in the works for more than a year, and something we’ve wanted to do ever since our first Web.Comp in 2015. It’s also something we know that many teachers have been wanting for a long time. I had a quick look at our support inbox and found pages and pages of emails mentioning JavaScript dating back to 2013. Now we’re on the cusp of shipping it!

With all of that in mind though, it’s been a massive challenge both…

When we think about creativity and creative people we tend to think of famous artists, writers, musicians, photographers or more recently, film makers. Each of these use a different medium, some creating with words, others creating with pictures.

Today different technologies have enabled a huge growth of creative mediums. You can create through all the traditional avenues, like writing, music, film and painting — but Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube have created totally different forms of these mediums. All of these are interesting to create in but all of them can be fundamentally changed with code. Code isn’t a…

In August I gave a talk at PyCon AU in their Education track about students’ mental models of computation and how these mental models can cause misunderstandings and mistakes. When we teach coding, it’s common to focus on the syntax and composition of code, assuming that the “reading” of code will follow. For some students code just makes sense, but others struggle understanding what this stuff means. They need help reading code as much as writing it.

In this talk I go through some of the common ways that students might misunderstand code, and talk through practical solutions to help. By improving students ability to read and trace code, we improve their capacity to debug their own code, and to understand the implications of new concepts they learn. Hope you enjoy it!

A nifty feature of Grok that many students and teachers don’t know about is Grok’s Python Terminal. It’s a bit of a mystery, so in this blog post I’ll explain how you can use it, and try to dispel the mystery around it!

First off, what is the Terminal? It’s what is often referred to as a “Read Evaluate Print Loop” or REPL. It lets you interactively write a line of Python, execute it, see the result and then enter another line of Python. If that doesn’t really make sense yet, don’t worry, keep reading to see it in practice.

JavaScript on the Web has a lot of what we want in an educational coding environment. You can easily build interactive user interfaces and games, the applications are portable and work on every device, and it uses a popular real world programming language.

The big downside of JavaScript on the Web is how complicated it is. The evolution of the web has created a mix of technologies that makes sense in context, and in retrospect, but is hard to explain to a beginner.

A really interesting place that illustrates this is “Hello, World!”. If you’re not familiar with it, one…

Nicky Ringland, Grok Co-Founder, at our StartCon workshop.

For 2018 we’re trying an experiment: we’ve changed our pricing model substantially and hopefully for the better. Previously we charged a flat rate; every student cost the same. This year we’ve introduced a new scheme that makes Grok cheaper with every subscription you purchase.

Here’s how it works:

We often find that it’s difficult to set realistic projects for students who are just beginning to learn to code. They all want to make apps and games just like the ones they use, but those can take months (or years) of work! You need engaging ideas, that are fun to make, interesting for students, use what they’ve learned and hopefully cross-curricular to boot.

So to help we’ve put together this short list of five beginner project ideas you can use with your class (right now!). Each one is flexible, and could be differentiated and extended in a variety of…

Video games are great, making them is extraordinarily creative and fulfilling, but they’re not the only way to learn to code. There are so many different projects we can make, so many different fields to explore, yet it seems like learning to make games is always at the top of the list. I like making games, so I get it, but I also like making apps, I like writing scripts, I’ve automated my lights, I’ve built websites and I even occasionally like writing SQL. So why do we keep using this one neat trick to teach coding?

As children we…

Feature Spotlight

One of the most enjoyable parts of programming is sharing something you’ve created with other people. Whether it’s a small text program, a website, a wearable device or an app — everyone enjoys showing off what they’ve made. Recently we’ve been thinking about how we can bring this experience to Grok.

It starts with a liberating new feature for all our HTML & CSS courses and competitions: Publish. Publishing allows students to click once, wait a few seconds, and then get a live URL for their website. It’s a small interaction with a big impact.

Note: The tools discussed in…

This article is part of a series on Learning Learning Science.

Modern education is an incredible feat. Packed within my brain is thousands of years of knowledge. Yet if much of my knowledge was tested in practice it would probably be ineffective or useless. For example, if I was set the task of throwing a tennis ball from a moving car with the aim of hitting a target on the side of the road, I’d likely miss. In research, university students tested in this way failed to account for the momentum that the car’s forward movement would impart on the…

Ben Taylor

Software developer and interaction designer specialising in EdTech. Working for myself and studying Education.

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