Python for the people

Thursday, 8 November, 2012

As the global media machine cranked out reports and analysis from Washington D.C. yesterday, the Palo Alto-based startup LearnStreet quietly launched into public beta, making barely a ripple upon the surface of the news industry. Backed with $1 million in seed funding from Khosla Ventures, the site is dedicated to helping beginners master the basics of JavaScript, Python and Ruby. Python Now, one of the sad realities about learning to code online is that students tend to drop out when the going gets tough because with no one around to answer their questions about tricky Python syntax and semantics, they simply log off. But by having their instructors available 24-7 to answer questions via email and Twitter, the founders of LearnStreet believe that their platform has a far greater chance of retaining students and producing coders. And, along with courses, LearnStreet offers a “Code Garage”, where students can work on a range of projects that will enable them to create their own games and tools. That should keep them coming back.

LearnStreet is entering a crowded zone. Already, would-be coders can choose between an array of online offers that includes, Codeacademy, Treehouse, Coderdojo, Udacity, Codeavengers, Coursera and, of course, Khan Academy. Crowed field or not, more startups are gearing up to offer code for the masses. What’s driving this? The rise of the digital economy.

In February this year, Cisco Systems, the technology company that helped define networking, produced its “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011 to 2016”. It predicted worldwide mobile data traffic increasing 18-fold over the next five years, reaching 10.8 exabytes a month. “The expected sharp increase in mobile traffic is due, in part, to a projected surge in the number of mobile Internet — connected devices, which will exceed the number of people on earth (2016 world population estimate of 7.3 billion; source: United Nations),” according to the report.

Lots of coders will be needed to cope with what’s coming.

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