Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

With coding and computer science becoming ever more critical thanks to technology’s central role in the world around us, effective computer science education is more important than ever. Many schools and parents are now turning to online coding education platforms for this purpose – a popular option being Tynker.

Tynker offers various online courses and activities covering coding, computer science, and STEM subjects. The platform provides a browser-based coding platform, three different mobile apps, and numerous other learning formats, such as self-led courses and lives one-to-one lessons.

But is Tynker worth it, and does it compare to other platforms like Zenva Schools? This review will cover everything you need to know about the Tynker platform, including content, features, and pricing options.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

What Is Tynker?

Tynker began in 2012 and launched in 2013, becoming a widely-used coding and computer science education tool. It offers lessons, courses, and activities for children aged five and up for use in schools, and for self-led learning at home. 

The platform has over 65 courses, more than 5000 different learning modules, and hundreds of tutorials and interactive projects.

Tynker’s mission statement is to make coding and computer science education fun and convenient for children. It aims to do this by taking a heavily interactive, often story-based approach to learning to keep kids engaged.

Tynker also provides three mobile apps: Tynker Jr. for younger learners, Tynker for children aged 7-14, and Mod Creator, an educational app based on creating mods and add-ons for Minecraft.

It is also worth noting Tynker also has partnerships with leading tech organisations and children’s brands. These include Apple, Google Education, Microsoft, Facebook, BBC Learning, Lego, Minecraft, Mattel, Hot Wheels, and Barbie.

What Content & Courses Does Tynker Provide?

Tynker provides educational content that explores coding, computer science, and STEM subjects. Coding course topics range from basic coding concepts (such as sequencing, loops, and variables) to more complex concepts (such as conditional logic, lists, and data structures). Tynker’s courses also aim to build skills like computational thinking, algorithmic thinking, problem decomposition, and abstraction.

Tynker’s early years content uses block-based coding to introduce learners to coding. The platform then provides courses to help older, more experienced students learn to use languages including Python, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

This being said, this collection content is a bit limited, For example, Zenva Schools includes courses on these programming languages, but they also have resources on Blender, C++, Scratch, and much more. This is in addition to plenty of courses surrounding STEM topics based on curriculum learning goals for students.

In addition to their regular courses, Tynker also offers many coding and computer science activities designed for cross-curricular use. These activities allow teachers to use coding exercises to help teach subjects including mathematics, life science, social sciences, and even English. This is not dissimilar to other platforms like Zenva Schools – which design their resources around curriculum standards that are meant to be applicable across multiple disciplines.

Structure

In terms of structure, most courses on Tynker consist of 16 or 17 lessons, each intended to last around 45 to 60 minutes to match a typical class period. Lessons consist of multiple modules of various types:

  • Interactive lectures – Guides that explain key concepts and help set the context of the lesson
  • Tutorials – Step-by-step instructions that guide students to build a project in Tynker Workshop (Tynker’s web-based coding platform).
  • Puzzles – Scenarios presented to students alongside blocks of code they need to program or debug, creating a working piece of code to solve the puzzle.
  • Projects – Longer, open-ended activities where students apply their knowledge to build a specific project.
  • Quizzes – A set of multiple-choice questions based on key concepts from the lesson, which teachers and parents can use as an assessment.

Tynker also offers live, one-to-one classes with coding and computer science experts, which provide students with more closely guided lessons to develop their skills.

That being said, keep in mind many other platforms offer the same sorts of materials. For example, Zenva Schools provides a variety of lesson materials to learn from – including video and text-based summaries, as well as interactive activities, live coding in the browser, quizzes, and more. Additionally, Zenva Schools’ courses are designed to be project-based off the bat – so students learn more than just theory.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

What Coding Content Is Missing From Tynker?

While Tynker covers a lot with its apps and courses, important elements are missing from its content. 

For example, while it covers a range of programming languages, including Python, Java, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS, certain other languages are missing that would be valuable for students to learn. In comparison, Zenva Schools provides resources on more programming languages and tools, like Scratch and Blender.

Of note, Tynker also doesn’t provide lessons in C++ – a high-level language that would be ideal for advanced students to expand their skills. Again, by comparison, Zenva Schools does offer C++ as an option to teachers to use in the classroom.

Another area where Tynker could do more is game development. For the most part, it doesn’t take game development courses beyond simple drag-and-drop coding. Students interested in game development may wish to use more advanced tools like Unity to develop their games.

Plenty of other platforms recognize this, including Zenva Schools which offers Unity courses and even some Python-based game development courses. These courses are also tailored for both beginners and advanced students, alongside other courses in topics such as app development and web development.

Finally, another limitation of Tynker is that certain features and courses aren’t available on mobile devices when using the main platform (as opposed to the mobile apps). This can restrict on-the-go learning or cause problems in situations where a student doesn’t have access to a desktop computer or laptop.

Alternatively, the Zenva Schools platform is accessible on all modern devices with no limits on functionality, and many other platforms follow this trend.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

What Age Groups Does Tynker Target?

While the design and appearance of the platform and much of its content may appear to be targeted largely at younger children, Tynker is for children of all ages. It segments content for different age groups, with its course library searchable by school grade.

Tynker’s aims and content for each age group are as follows:

  • 5-7-year-olds – Simple coding exercises with voice instructions to give clear guidance as young learners master basic coding concepts. Students will solve logic problems, create simple apps and games, and get comfortable with basic block-based coding.
  • 8-13-year-olds – More block-based coding, but transitioning into more complex concepts and broader computer science/STEM subjects. Courses at this stage rely heavily on interactive, playful elements such as designing Minecraft mods or controlling robots and drones through code.
  • Children aged 14 and over – Moving from block-based coding to real-world, text-based programming languages, including Python and JavaScript. Students will explore data structures and other complex concepts, learn web development with HTML/CSS, and prepare specifically for AP CompSci.

This being said, there is indeed a bias on the platform for younger children. Other platforms, like Zenva Schools, offer a more equal range. To example, Zenva Schools offers material for students in Year 3 all the way to Year 12. Additionally, the curriculum objectives for the courses are more detailed and precise than Tynker’s, allowing teachers to create more effective lesson plans.

How Well Does Tynker Match The Curriculum?

Tynker complies with 1st-8th grade US Common Core Standards, which aligns with the US curriculum. While not specifically geared towards other national curriculums, Tynker does offer the ability to search its course library according to the British, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian, and Indian curricula. That being said, Tynker does not specifically design their courses around those curricula.

Each course on Tynker also lists the programming skills it aims to develop, as well as the Common Core Mathematics and ELA areas it focuses on – and which CSTA Computer Science standards it meets.

Again, the mileage may vary in other locations, and this is not unusual for learning platforms. To example Zenva Schools again, the courses there are matched to not just US Common Core, but also the US CSTA Computer Science standards, the US K-12 Computer Science Framework, the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum, and the Queensland Digital Solutions curriculum.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

What Features Does Tynker Have For Students & Parents?

Tynker aims to make learning fun and engaging to help students stay self-motivated throughout each course. One specific feature to aid motivation is Tynker’s awards and certificates, which give students a tangible reward for their progress and achievements.

As mentioned, Tynker also offers one-to-one live classes for students who need more guidance to provide more direct tuition. The initial free live coding class covers sequences, loops, variables, and objects, giving students the tools to create animations and apps. Further classes delve into deeper, more complex subjects but will require a subscription.

For parents, Tynker offers a Parent Dashboard that enables them to track their child’s progress through each course and lesson. This dashboard shows individual assessment scores and a detailed breakdown of their child’s mastery of various subjects within coding and computer science.

It is worth noting, though, that plenty of other services offer similar additives for motivation. Zenva Schools, as one example, offers Certificates of Completion – which are even useable on resumes for students in the future should they pursue STEM-based jobs. Zenva Schools also offers students the ability to download course source files, so they can also compare and contrast their own work with the course itself.

What Features Does Tynker Have For Teachers?

Tynker provides teachers with a broad range of tools and resources to help in the classroom. First and foremost, Tynker’s courses focus on “interest-driven learning” – making lessons more appealing to students by basing them around fun subjects like games or robots. 

Like the Parent Dashboard, Tynker provides a Teacher Dashboard that offers an automatic grade book showing your students’ scores and progress in each class. Tynker also has a Concepts Mastery tab that displays various concepts and skills, amalgamating results from across lessons and courses to show how well students master each area.

Additionally, Tynker also offers a variety of free and paid professional development programs to teachers, helping them to brush up on their own coding skills to bring more expertise to the classroom.

All this being said, these features are found elsewhere as well. Zenva Schools happens to offer not only classroom management tools and analytics to track student progress, but extra lesson plan resources teachers can use for their planning. This is not to mention the lesson plans directly list content descriptors for the curriculums it covers.

Beyond this, Zenva Schools also doesn’t charge extra for professional development – teachers have equal access to all the classes to learn from as well.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

How Much Does Tynker Cost?

For full details on pricing for each Tynker subscription option, check out the table below.

Subscription/Product

Cost

What You Get

Self-paced at-home learning – All Access

$144 for an annual subscription, or $230.40 for a family annual subscription (up to 3 family members

All courses and content, plus all three mobile apps. Targeted at children aged 8+.

Self-paced at-home learning – All-Access 3-year

$270 for three years, or $432 for a family 3-year subscription (up to 3 family members) – saves 38% compared to an annual plan

All courses and content, plus all three mobile apps. Targeted at children aged 8+.

Self-paced at-home learning – Essentials

$27 quarterly, or $45 for a family subscription (up to 3 family members)

Icon and Block Coding courses, plus the Tynker Jr. app. Targeted at ages 5-9.

Live classes – Basic

$320 per month or as a one-off payment.

Eight classes over a month. ($40 per class)

Live classes – Standard

$248 per month, or $1488 upfront.

Forty-eight courses over six months. ($31 per class)

Live classes – Premium

$224 per month, or $3999 upfront.

144 courses over 18 months. ($28 per class)

Tynker for Teachers – Free

Free

Teachers can try out 3 coding courses and 40+ Hours of Code activities, sign up for unlimited free student accounts, and access free professional development resources.

Tynker for Teachers – Classroom

$399 per year

12 Premium lessons for a single grade

Tynker for Teachers – School/District

Not specified – contact Tynker directly for a quote

Unlimited access to multiple grades and over 100 lessons

Tynker Jr. App

$0.99 per month or $9.99 per year

Ten creative coding courses with voice instructions for clear guidance, with block-based coding. Suitable for ages 5-7.

Tynker App

$0.99 per month or $9.99 per year

16 courses on apps, games, robots, and other interactive topics; block-based coding. Suitable for ages 7-14.

Mod Creator App

$3.99 per month or $39.99 per year

Two self-paced courses introducing students to modding with code. Built-in coding tools for Minecraft mods, skins, and add-ons. Suitable for ages 7-14.

Prices listed were obtained from the Tynker website in 2022

Overall, as one can see, this is a rather complicated pricing structure – and the cost can quickly add up for most schools and teachers.

By comparison, Zenva Schools (to name one platform) has a much simpler pricing structure. In general, Zenva Schools charges a reasonable price by student per year. For this price, teachers and students get all offered features – so there’s no messy situations where a school has to buy extra materials.

Tynker Review: Teaching Coding for Students & Teachers

Conclusion: Is Tynker Worth It?

Overall, Tynker’s broad range of content and solid reputation make it a decent choice for parents who want to get their children into coding and teachers who need a useful classroom tool. Tynker’s courses appeal to students because they focus on topics like games, animations, and interactive stories.

Tynker also caters to a wide range of different needs. Providing both self-led and directly guided one-to-one lessons means children with different learning styles can excel on the platform. 

Despite the features of Tynker, though, it also has multiple gaps in it that Zenva Schools can fill.

For example, the courses on Zenva Schools are more extensive and offer options on more programming languages, tools, and topics like Blender, Unity, Scratch, and more. Additionally, the pricing is far simpler – it gets you all the features you want for a fair quoted price.

So while Tynker is good – especially for younger kids – remember there are options out there!

If you’re from a K12 school and want to try out our platform, fill out the form below.

We’ll organize a free trial so you can test it out with your students in class!