Coding and computer science are quickly becoming two essential skills for schools to teach, primarily because of technology’s central role in modern life. However, not all schools teach these subjects effectively – which is where online learning platforms like CodeHS and Zenva Schools can help.
CodeHS offers courses to make computer science education more accessible by providing teachers with better resources. However, with so many other online learning platforms like Zenva Schools, can CodeHS compete?
Our CodeHS review will cover everything you need to know about the platform, from the subjects it covers in its course catalog to its features and pricing.
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What Is CodeHS?
CodeHS is an interactive online learning platform that provides computer science and coding education resources for teachers, schools, and individual learners. Founded in 2012, CodeHS’s mission is to “empower all students to meaningfully impact the future”, driven by a belief that in the 21st century, coding should be an equally fundamental skill to reading and writing.
CodeHS provides courses, tools, resources, and entire curricula for teachers, schools, and students to improve their coding education.
While CodeHS does offer courses to individual learners, the platform’s primary focus is on providing teachers and schools with more resources for the classroom to implement high-quality computer science programs.
That said, CodeHS does offer a unique service to individual learners in the form of remote tutors who can provide additional feedback and support alongside each course.
The CodeHS platform is accessible through any modern browser and offers a dedicated Chrome app with additional functionality.
What Content & Courses Does CodeHS Provide?
CodeHS provides a catalog of over 60 courses covering coding and computer science skills and concepts.
The typical format of CodeHS courses are lessons exploring different areas of a topic, with each one including short videos to explain concepts followed by challenges that test students’ understanding. Courses are customizable, with lessons, projects, videos, quizzes, and other elements available to differentiate the subject for different classes or individual students.
In terms of length, CodeHS courses can vary widely. For example, individual Hour of Code activities takes an hour to complete plus short 10-hour modules. On the longer end, CodeHS provides numerous courses that can last a quarter, semester, or even an entire year.
Most of CodeHS’s courses are for beginners understandably – aside from clearly marked intermediate and advanced courses).
All this being said, there are plenty of other platforms with comparable collections of courses and materials. Zenva Schools for example offers complete courses on digital systems, web design, game design, Python, and so forth with the same coverage of programming languages.
Zenva Schools also has plenty of supplemental material such as downloadable summaries, interactive lssons, quizzes, and more. Each course is designed to be “self-paced”, so teachers can use one course for a whole semester or do multiple courses. As an additive, Zenva Schools’ courses also provide pre-mapped lesson plans for Australian and US curriculum standards.
What Coding Content Is Missing From CodeHS?
While CodeHS’ course library is relatively extensive, there are things they could do better.
For instance, many courses incorporate simple retro-style games into their teaching, but there are limited options for students who wish to advance their game design skills more seriously.
In addition, CodeHS primarily focuses on middle and high school content. While the platform does provide some support for elementary teachers, this is limited to professional development and lesson plans rather than course content. As such, CodeHS doesn’t offer much for home-based elementary learning.
In comparison, Zenva Schools (as one example) offers far more extensive game development courses. Not only do they offer quite a number of different engines – including Unity – but make their courses project-based. As such, students do not commit to taking an entire semester before they can actually build something worthwhile.
Likewise, Zenva Schools also supports grades as young as Year 3 with content on Scratch, making it a friendlier choice for elementary school teachers.
What Is CodeHS’s Age Range?
The main CodeHS catalog is for middle and high school students, with courses of varying lengths across a wide range of coding and computer science subjects.
As mentioned, CodeHS is a bit lacking for elementary schools. CodeHS does provide a customizable elementary curriculum that aligns with its offerings for older classes to provide schools and districts with a unified K-12 pathway.
However, the elementary curriculum is mainly used in schools, providing lesson plans and sequences rather than self-led courses. CodeHS’s elementary curriculum is most suited to giving teachers the tools for teaching coding rather than self-led learning at home.
The elementary curriculum on CodeHS provides modular, hands-on lessons for younger learners to grow their understanding of basic concepts in coding and computer science. The middle and high school courses cover grades 6-12 with a variety of beginner-friendly courses and additional advanced courses for more experienced students.
Finally, the CodeHS catalog also includes 8 AP courses. These are ideal for advanced middle and high school students but may also be suitable for over-18s who want to take their coding education to the next level.
Again, though, CodeHS may not be particularly unique in regards to these features. Zenva Schools, for example, offers full courses for Years 3 – 12 and teachers a variety of topics matched specifically to the necessary requirements for US and Australian curriculums.
Additionally, Zenva Schools is designed to be used not just in the classroom (with useful classroom management tools) but can be accessed at home. Thus, it can be extremely easy to assign students “homework” on the platform itself.
How Well Does CodeHS Match The Curriculum?
CodeHS aligns to US national curriculum frameworks and individual state curricula, with a strong emphasis on providing resources that contribute to the aims of major curricula. The curricula that CodeHS’s courses are aligned to include:
- Common Core Mathematics Standards – CodeHS courses provide a real-world application for math skills such as modeling, reasoning, and abstraction.
- K-12 Computer Science Framework – CodeHS aligns to this framework by supporting access to computer science for all students, driving proficiency in computer science concepts and practices while developing problem-solving and computational thinking.
- International Society for Technology in Education – CodeHS courses provide project-based learning, blended learning, and support for the flipped classroom model.
- Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 CS Standards – CodeHS fulfills the core learning objectives laid out by this framework for the foundations of a complete computer science curriculum.
- College Board Advanced Placement – CodeHS is an endorsed provider for AP Computer Science, with all components aligned to the AP Curriculum Framework.
- Next Generation Science Standards – CodeHS provides cross-disciplinary, content-rich courses on engineering design and information.
For those outside the US, though, this may not fit your particular situation. To example a different platform, Zenva Schools offers mapping for US Common Core, K-12 Computer Science Framework, and the Computer Science Teachers Association K-12 Computer Science Standards as well. In addition though, Zenva Schools also offers mapping for the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum as well.
What Features Does CodeHS Have For Students & Parents?
Since CodeHS is mostly for school use, its features for students and parents are slightly more limited than its school-specific benefits. Nevertheless, it still offers features and functions for home learners.
Courses break down into separate modules containing individual lessons, making it possible for students to learn at their own pace and track their progress across lessons and courses.
Finally, CodeHS offers support to students through its remote tutors. These tutors can provide personalized feedback on projects and assessments, and students can ask for support and guidance when necessary (this provides home-based learners with assistance if they’re ever stuck or confused).
Again, however, these features are limited. Other platforms like Zenva Schools have similar course design, and can equally be used at home as well. As such, this isn’t particularly unique about the CodeHS platform.
What Features Does CodeHS Have For Teachers?
CodeHS is mainly for classroom use, so it makes sense that it offers a wide range of features for teachers. As well as the course catalog, CodeHS offers the following tools and resources for teachers.
- Classroom management tools for both virtual and in-person classes.
- Professional development opportunities to enhance teachers’ coding knowledge and improve lesson delivery.
- A fully-featured learning management system that lets teachers build custom assignments, share them with students, manage student rosters, track attendance, and monitor programming activity.
- Feedback and grading tools, including a custom grade book, customizable point values, grading categories for weighted grades and personalized feedback sharing.
- Student data dashboards that help to increase the transparency of student performance and monitor how much time students spend on each assignment.
While these are very good features, CodeHS definitely isn’t alone and there are other options. Zenva Schools, for instance, also offers classroom management tools so teachers can easily organize students and courses. In addition, Zenva Schools also offers analytics for teachers so it’s easy to identify where students are struggling, which students are struggling, and every students overall progress.
How Much Does CodeHS Cost?
CodeHS has different costs for schools and individual learners, with exact pricing and details sometimes challenging to find. However, complete pricing information for the various products and tiers offered by CodeHS is in the table below.
|What It Includes
|Individual – Free Plan
|Access to the introductory Programming With Karel course
|Individual – Grading Plan
|$75 per month or $750 per year
|Access to all main CodeHS courses; personalised feedback and grading from tutors plus Q&A functions; in-browser coding; additional videos, examples and exercises
|Individual – Single Courses
|One-off $199 payment for each course – although specific courses may cost less ($139) or more ($299)
|Entire curriculum for the purchased course; code review, personalised feedback and grading from tutors, plus Q&A support; auto grading instant tips
|Schools – Free
|Total 6-12 course pathway; student enrollment, problem bank; auto grading; basic assignment creation; first 5 lesson plans for each course; other limited teacher resources
|Schools – Pro
|Unspecified – contact CodeHS for a quote
|Everything in Free, plus: all detailed lesson plans; student progress tracking; badges and gamification; greater assignment controls; cheat detection; and Fast Grade tools
|Schools – School License
|Unspecified – contact CodeHS for a quote
|Everything in Pro, plus: activity, usage and progress tracking across sections, teachers and school; custom course pathway builder and consultation
|Schools – District License
|Unspecified – contact CodeHS for a quote
|Everything in School License, plus: Administrator Dashboard for further insights; teacher professional development management; full district implementation support
While the pricing here gives you a lot of options, it is also arguably very complex to navigate. Judging from the individual prices, it can be quite expensive as well.
Other platforms like Zenva Schools can offer more comparable deals. Zenva Schools charges a simple rate per student per year. For that price, teachers and schools get every piece of content and feature (including analytics and classroom management) without needing to worry about additional extra purchases.
Conclusion: Is CodeHS Worth It?
CodeHS is solid for coding and computer science education. Its course library is relatively varied in terms of subjects, programming languages, experience levels, and course length, offering resources suitable for any situation. It also has professional development options for teachers, and plenty of other useful features for using the courses in the classroom.
However, CodeHS also doesn’t have any features that standout from other platforms. Zenva Schools offers the same variety of course content and a wide breadth of features as well – but for a much more competitive price and with a simpler UI experience. Thus, there are options out there to consider.
CodeHS is good, but make sure to shop around before buying into the platform outright!
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