How Glitch Is Used In The Classroom

Glitch makes learning fun. As you get ready to go back to school, we talked to five educators from across the U.S. to see how they use Glitch to teach their students.

If you’re teaching a class, running a hackathon, or just showing a friend how to code, we recently wrote about a collection of free and open learning resources, including starter kits, zines, and more! But we wanted to go beyond the code, and hear just how teachers are using Glitch in the classroom and what types of apps they’re working on.

From Remix to Learning

“I first discovered Glitch through an A-frame tutorial,” says Eric Eisaman, a high school teacher at Edward Little HS in Auburn, ME. “I was prompted to remix a project which accompanied an article I was reading at the time.”

It’s fascinating how the discovery of a new piece of information can encourage you to learn more. “At some point over the following weeks, I investigated [Glitch] further and shared the article and project with my students, and nearly all the students remixed the project on their own. That was just the loud, clamoring cymbal for me to just get out there and be more serious about integrating [Glitch] into the classroom.”

With a shared, collaborative editor, the ability to remix projects, and an easy way to ask for help if you get stuck, Glitch is a powerful tool to use for teaching all types of coding concepts. And remixing from a working example is a great way to start students off by getting them straight into the code. Rather than beginning with all of the theory first, getting them using code to make something fun is a useful hook that can motivate students to learn the theory they need later.

Using Starter Projects to Teach All Abilities

Daniel Carter, assistant professor of digital media at Texas State University uses “Glitch almost like a live improvisation environment in my classes. I set up a really basic demo or really basic web template, and then I just use it as a space where we can all come together”.

It can be tough finding the right level to pitch a whole class. But by creating flexible starter projects you can cater to all coding experience levels and abilities.

“I’ll literally go around the classroom and have each student either type code or explain to me what the code is doing, and I like that because I can be really flexible, and I can change what I’m asking students to do based on what they need reinforced or based on ideas they have,” says Carter.

He isn’t the only one using starter projects. Kelly Lougheed, a middle and high school computer science teacher in Los Angeles says “oftentimes, I create starter projects and have students remix them so that they can focus on learning or reinforcing the salient concepts (rather than setting up their HTML/CSS/JS templates).”

We know many teachers have to be their own IT support. Using Glitch means you don’t have to worry about installing or updating anything, as everything runs in the browser. “Whether I was teaching basic HTML, CSS, JavaScript, or frameworks like A-Frame, Glitch was an easy way to expedite the file setup process and have students immediately see their work live on the internet,” Lougheed adds.

Re-using Resources from Across the Web

Justin Riley, a computer science teacher at Hilliard Bradley High School in Columbus, OH, found a complete use for Glitch across all his classes.

“Last year, I used [Glitch] in my game design class, my web design class…even my introductory level programming course. My students and I just loved how easy it was to work collaboratively, how easy it was to work with p5.js and Node. We really liked following along The Coding Train tutorials on YouTube, and being able to recreate the p5.js activities and games in Glitch.”

Re-using existing resources is a smart way of reducing the work involved in creating compelling examples for students to work from. You can identify the hit videos and tutorials and use that to inform your choices, along side other factors like technology used and difficulty level etc.

Recursion from The Coding Train

Keeping Students (and Teachers!) On Track

“I’ve noticed that if we don’t have that environment where we can all watch each other coding, they just kind of scatter really quickly. But if we’re in Glitch, they all tend to stay engaged and they’re better able to keep up and respond to what we’re doing,” says Carter. The Glitch editor is collaborative, so you can pair with students on code in a workshop, or they can watch you coding live.

But it’s not just students who can be helped by Glitch. Prof. Greg McVerry of Southern Connecticut State University, is even using Glitch to help empower fellow instructors.

“My goal is to create resources to help educators that want to move into open educational resources and open pedagogy. Instead of having us remix all these crazy classes in LMS, let’s just use plain HTML as much as we can and keep our websites and our instructions simple and remixable and shareable.”

What Is Everyone Building?

So that’s how educators are using Glitch, but what are they all building? With each of these educators using Glitch in different ways in their classrooms, we were curious to see the projects their students have created.

“Right now, [my students] are doing trading cards of people on the open Web. It’s just a tiny bit of CSS animation to flip the cards. They’re also doing a meme generator. I try to think about the projects that will scaffold folks into learning HTML a bit. I’m not building any apps with my students yet; we’re just pretty much using the website and the HTML editors,” says McVerry.

Voices of the Web

“I actually taught summer IoT camp for middle-schoolers, and I had integrated Glitch there. Students made different renditions of a controller, an administrative application for an IoT network,” says Eric. According to him, students also asked him to teach multi-player game design during the camp! He was hesitant at first, but by the end of the day, he decided to squeeze in a quick lesson.

“I spun up a quick multi-player demo in Glitch, using A-frame, to give them a context to ask questions. As soon as I spun up that demo at Glitch, it was just like, boom, boom, a bunch of different possibilities that were going on in these students’ heads. So I’m currently working with students on that project, and they’re doing remixes of it and giving feedback to each other, instruction to each other. And that’s where I think things are most effective, when students are teaching each other.”

Games are a fun way to get folks into coding. But bots are popular too, as Lougheed describes. “During one lesson, I had students create Twitter bots using the Node.js starter code and instructions on Glitch”. “This activity followed a lesson where students used JavaScript arrays and Math.random() to make a Magic 8 Ball website. It was a natural extension for them to use the same JavaScript techniques to make their Twitter bot produce a random tweet, just like the Magic 8 Ball generated a random response.”

“At first, I wasn’t sure if Glitch was going to work for the classroom because of everything being public by default and easy to share. But this ended up being awesome. This was a feature, not a bug,” adds Riley.

These are just a few ways that educators are using Glitch in the classroom (and beyond). You’ve got the power of an entire creative community behind you when you’re teaching using Glitch. To learn a little more about using Glitch for learning, check out this short overview video: