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Best school coding platform of 2020

Best school coding platform
(Image credit: Pixabay)

When it comes to computer coding, it can be hard to motivate kids and older students to want to learn. After all, most apps and other software platforms already do everything for them, so there’s little incentive to learn.

However, coding and programming are key skills now and demand is expected to increase in the future, especially when it comes to managing cybersecurity and cloud services and SaaS platforms, let alone direct application development.

Therefore students who can be engaged in coding now can have better potential prospects once they do leave school, either for additional education or directly for the workplace.

Luckily, there are coding and programming platforms out there that aim to make learning fun, which can be often achieved through easy to follow video tutorials and simple exercises, such as animations, which can become progressively more challenging to match student development levels.

Here then are what we think are the best in school coding platforms.

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Best coding platforms for schools - at a glance

  1. Khan Academy
  2. Code Academy
  3. Code Avengers
  4. Think Bog Coding
  5. Pluralsight

(Image credit: Khan Academy)

1. Khan Academy

The big free educational platform for schools

Free to use
Range of courses
Limited coding options

Khan Academy is a free online learning platform for schools and interested learners, that aims to provide teaching resources for a range of subjects from coding & programming, maths & science, to art & history.

The platform aims to teach from Kindergarten using adaptive technology to identify strengths and gaps in a user’s learning and suggest courses to proceed with accordingly.

As well as having big aims it also has big supporters, from partnerships with NASA and MIT, to funding from the Bank of America and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

There are a lot of maths courses, many of which are provided by grade level, and of the computer science courses there are a limited number covering programming to animation.

Overall, a worthwhile and enabling platform, and definitely worth considering adding it to your educational resources.

(Image credit: Code Academy)

2. Code Academy

Dedicated platform for beginner coding

Aimed at teenagers+
Extensive resources
Range of coding languages
Free tier

Code Academy is a dedicated learning resource platform for teaching many different coding and programming skills. While not specifically tailored to schools, it is aimed at beginners and could especially help teenage students as well as adult learners.

This also means it gets to a cover a wider range of programming languages than more basic platforms, and can include Python, Javascript, SQL, C++, C#, Ruby, PHP, as well as a few others on top of HTML & CSS.

There’s quite an extensive catalogue, and it’s not all just about coding, but about structured approaches to data science, which can include different approaches to analyzing data or creating code, depending on your preference.

Even better is that there is a free tier that allows for access to all basic courses. However, you can pay around $20 a month for accept to member-only content, real-world projects, while also receiving guidance and peer support.

(Image credit: Code Avengers)

3. Code Avengers

A dedicated coding platform for schools

For all school ages
Teaching resources
No free tier

Code Avengers is a platform developed in New Zealand/Aotearoa which aims to provide learning resources for schools across a number of areas of coding, programming, and development. Main courses focus on Python, HTML & CSS, Javascript, web development, as well as web design.

The resources are split across three main areas: learning resources for beginners between 5-14 years of age, help for teachers to deliver the courses, and more creative projects for 15 years and above.

As a learning resource it keeps things tightly organised and simple to work with, but unlike the Khan Academy it’s not free to use. However, the pricing is relatively cheap and affordable, costing just $20 per month when paid annually, or $29 per month when paid for on a rolling month to month basis.

Whichever plan you choose gives you unlimited access to over 500 lessons, as well as 100+ guided projects and 100+ quizzes. There’s also an option to create projects using their cloud platform, and there are certificates avaialbel upon completion. There’s also an exclusive Slack channel for support.

(Image credit: Think Big Coding)

4. Think Big Coding

The British school coding resource

For elementary learners
Learn through play
Some limitations

Think Big Coding is a British initiative to help teach coding and programming in schools, providing resources for teaching online as well as in the classroom.

The aim is to provide fun and interactive coding sessions for primary/elementary school children, allowing them to create their own animations, websites, and games, using any number of coding resources which can include Scratch and Python, as well as HTML & CSS. These can be used in class lessons or for after school activities.

The first lessons are based on using Scratch and gradually develop into using aspects of Python, then Wordpress.

Although originally developed to support local schools in partnership with Kent University, there will soon be an Virtual Learning Environment to provide wider online access, through the provision of modular courses through the online web portal.

Although the general Coding Club is currently only for local schools, you can sign up for the Online Learning Portal including CodeCombat for a 3 monthly subscription of £23.97 (just under $10 per month).

(Image credit: Pluralsight)

5. Pluralsight

The world's biggest online training library?

Huge library
Many courses
Skills testing
No free tier
Aimed at older students

Pluralsight may be the biggest online training library when it comes to IT skills, not least due to a series of acquisitions over the years. The result is an absolutely massive number of online training courses in all aspects of IT, from managing servers to direct programming skills.

The one caveat is that the platform is more orientated at older students, so rather than providing the basics for the youngest minds, it’s more of a place to teach those who are looking to differentiate into different areas.

Aside from a vast array of courses, Pluralsight make it easy for you to develop your own path using a series of features that include channels for easy organizing, paths for determining which skills you can follow with, as well as skill assessments that will show both your strengths and the gaps in your knowledge.

Altogether, Pluralsight is an excellent resource just waiting to be mined by the enquiring mind. There’s a ten-day free trial to explore and use the service, with monthly fees coming in from around $30 per month.