bratty_brits

A couple weeks ago, Carmel DeAmicis wrote about the rise of “online skills classes” and how they’ve supplanted the infamous MOOC as the dominant online education platform. DeAmicis focused on Lynda and Pluralsight, but there’s another major learning platform that belongs in the discussion: New York’s Codecademy and its community of 24 million coders and aspiring coders.

Last night, the company announced a redesign along with new lessons and portfolio features designed to show off what users have built on the platform. “It’s about ‘What have you built,’ not ‘What you’ve learned,'” Codecademy CEO and co-founder Zach Sims told me. “That speaks so much louder than certification or often a degree.” That makes sense coming from Sims who left college in 2011 to pursue his dream of starting a company.

The updates will go live on Monday, but Sims and co-founder Ryan Bubinski showed off some of the new features to a crowd of journalists and Codecademy workers last night. One new lesson lets users design a mock Airbnb homepage, underscoring how Codecademy’s learning tools, which cover HTML, CSS, Javascript, Ruby, PHP, Python, and APIs, can be used in real-world situations.

Sims and Bubinksi are passionate in their belief that anyone can use their platform to learn to code and better their lives. Bubinski recounted a story about a middle-aged administrative assistant who was laid off and had struggled mightily to find employment in a brutal job market. After using Codecademy she landed a new gig as a website administrator.

Stories like this are certainly inspiring, but another area of real growth potential for Codecademy is in working with employers to get their existing workers code-literate. The company partnered with Rakuten, a Japanese commerce and Internet company, to help teach all of its employees around the world to be code-literate.

But don’t Internet company employees already know how to code? Jack Liu, who works in Business Development for Codecademy told me, “For every tech worker, there’s possibly a dozen more whose job is to support him or her.” These workers on the business or marketing side may not code day-in and day-out, but they should be able to speak the same language as the engineers and developers building the product.

From Codecademy’s partnerships with employers to its new focus on building portfolios, it sounds as if Codecademy is positioning itself as a sort of LinkedIn for coders (or like a less intimidating Github). That would also make sense as a path to revenue for Codecademy, which does not charge for its courses, but could perhaps start charging employers to use Codecademy as a recruiting tool.

When asked about this, Sims just smiles and says, “Besides Github, we have one of the largest communities of people who code. There’s value in that.”

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]