Monday, April 21, 2014

New case study: Going beyond our curriculum with cryptography, technology news, and games

We've added a new case study to our coach resources, highlighting Jenny Oliver's classroom in Thailand. She's a software engineer that suddenly found herself in charge of the CS class at the local high school, so she decided to base her class on our intro curriculum and build on top of it. Together with her husband, also an engineer, they added lessons about cryptography, technology news, and created new exercises and projects, like Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock. Interested? Read more here!.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New teacher tool: class progress viewer!

Want to get a general idea of how your class is progressing through our Intro to JS course? How many challenges have most students gone through? Are they behind or ahead of where you thought? Which students haven't started the later ones? Now, instead of looking at each individual student's progress, you can look at your class progress overall to find answers to all of those questions.

Just select the "Intro to JS" mission for the "Skills Progress" report, and you'll see bars representing the percent of your students that have started or completed bits of the course:

You can click on those bars to find out precisely which students are implied by the bars:

If you only care about their progress on types of content, like challenges or videos/talk-throughs, you can filter down what you see:

If you'd like your progress picker to always show "Intro to JS", you can now select that as your class' default mission, in the "Manage Students" tab:

We hope you enjoy the new tool and look forward to hearing how you use it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

CoderDojo JS workshop for girls: Great success!

CoderDojo is a network of clubs around the world that hold coding workshops for kids, and they teach a wide variety of topics, depending on who can teach what in that city. The local chapter, CoderDojo Silicon Valley, teaches evening workshops in Minecraft, HTML/CSS, Python, and SCRATCH.

We think that what CoderDojo is awesome, and wanted to try using our Khan Academy JS curriculum to teach their audience, so we worked together to put on a workshop for middle school girls, last Saturday afternoon.

Around 40 girls flowed into the room on Saturday (the waitlist was 3x that!) and 10 volunteer mentors scattered around the room, while parents sat by and watched. We started off by talking about what programming is, including playing a fun game where they program each other with stacks of commands (like one of the crowd favorites: "get on all fours", "crawl 10 steps", "say 'moo'").

Then we got into actual programming in JS, working the first talk-through and challenge together. After that, we set them off to go at their own pace through the curriculum, with mentors around to help. Once they got through the drawing and coloring sections, we paired them with another ready student, and they programmed together on "Project: What's for Dinner" for the rest of the time. We ended with a Show & Tell, with each pair showing off their team chant, secret handshake, and of course, their dinner. Here are some of their pair projects:

From "Fire-Breathing Rubber Duckies":
From "Crazy Eaters":
From "Ninja Kitties":
From "Imagine Bosses":

From "Wafflicious":
From "KT Stars":

It was a lot of fun, and a workshop that I hope that both I and others can repeat. To make it easier for others to replicate, I've put together a detailed lesson plan with print outs and a suggested agenda. Let me know if you have any questions or put one on yourself!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

New way to review what you learn in Intro to JS!

For each of the concepts that we cover in Intro to JS, students learn and practice through an alternating sequence of talk-throughs and challenges, and then finish up with a creative project. We want to give students a way to review what they've learnt in the talk-throughs without having to re-watch them all, to give them another opportunity to solidify everything they've learnt, and to give them one more chance to ask questions about the concepts. So, we've added "Review" articles at the end of each tutorial, which students can read and discuss, before they tackle the project. Here are quick links to check out each one:

We've only had these articles out for a few days, but students love them so far and are asking great questions in the discussion. If you have students learning JS, you may want to point them to the articles to refresh and reenforce what they've learned.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New tool for programming teachers: see your students' progress!

When a student is going through our Intro to JS curriculum, they have a distinct visual goal: make the icons completely green! For example, here's my progress on the Arrays section, where I've made it most of the way through:

As a teacher of students going through the curriculum, how can you know how each of your students is progressing? You can look over their shoulder, as you're wandering through the classroom. But maybe your students are virtual, or they're working on it from home, or you want to check at night when you were wondering how all your students are doing.

To help teachers track individual student progress, we've now added "Intro to JS" as an option in the "Student Progress" report, and we show each student's progress through the curriculum when you select it:

You can see what content they've started, completed, or not started at all, and you can filter to view only the completed content. You can also click on the Videos or Activity tabs to narrow down to what they've done specifically in the last week, month, etc.

We hope this helps give you more insight to how your students are progressing, and of course, we'll continue to work on the teacher experience.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Mastery Badge for Intro to JS!

Now that we have a complete Intro to JS curriculum with more than 30 interactive coding challenges, how can students show to their teachers and the world that they've successfully completed it? As of today, with a brand new shiny "Intro to JS: Drawing & Animation Mastery" badge!

We consider this badge a "challenge patch", like the ones we already reward to students that complete all the "Fraction" exercises or "3rd grade math" mission, so that's where you'll find it on a user's profile. For example, to see it on my profile, visit my badges page and click "Challenge Patches".

Once students earn the badge, they'll get a notification (like with all badges), and they can choose to add it to their showcase, since it's a pretty cool accomplishment they can be proud of.

If you're a student or you coach a student that should have earned the badge but didn't yet, don't fret. We run a script to award badges to students that already completed the challenges, but if a student hasn't been active recently, that script may not work as expected. Feel free to contact us at compsci-feedback at with a link to the student profile in question, and we can manually trigger that script.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Watched a programming talk-through? See it in the progress reports!

For both students and especially for teachers, one of the most helpful aspects of Khan Academy is the activity logging: we record when you do videos, exercises, and challenges, and surface that on user profiles, progress viewer, and teacher reports.

After launching the DonorsChoose rewards program a few weeks ago, we got a lot of reports from teachers anxious that they couldn't see the fact that their students had watched the programming videos- that's because the programming "videos" are actually "talk-throughs", these crazy things we invented that sync audio to coding. But, hey, that shouldn't matter, we should still be logging the talk-through watching the same way we log the Youtube video watching everywhere else on the site. We want programming teachers to know as much about their students' progress as math teachers, to have a consistent, great experience.

As of today, we are now logging talk-through progress the same way that we log video progress. You'll see them show up in the activity feed, progress reports, weekly emails, activity graph - anywhere you see videos now:

We hope this helps teachers track their students better, and we look forward to continuing to improve the teacher experience. If you ever have feedback, feel free to comment here or email us at compsci-feedback at