Teachers give students coding superpowers with ReplitGet started
Why we need coding superpowers
In the next decade, there will be a million more programming jobs than computer science (CS) graduates to fill them. At the same time, too many students (especially low income people of color) lack equitable access to high quality CS education. The economic opportunity is huge, but unless some things change, not everyone will get their fair chance.
Moreover, the educational system, which should be “the great equalizer,” is struggling to incorporate CS instruction. Teachers and education leaders consistently tell us that they wish their schools would prioritize CS education more and introduce it to students at an earlier age.
At Replit, we believe deeply in the equalizing and empowering potential of computer programming. Beginners shouldn’t have to spend hours fighting their machines just to write “Hello World.” It’s no wonder so many give up before discovering the creative joy of coding. Young visionaries, wherever they come from, deserve better access to technology.
We want to give everyone the tools and community they need to succeed. The kids need coding superpowers!
Superpowers in the classroom
In most traditional CS classes, students code in a school media lab with bulky desktops. At the end of class, they copy their code onto flash drives to keep working at home, if they even have a personal computer. And every time the teacher has to install software updates, they have to wait for IT approval.
In a CS class using Replit, students code on everything from a Chromebook to an iPad. They collaborate with Replit’s multiplayer feature, just like they do on Google Docs. And at the end of class, Replit saves everyone’s work and updates any necessary packages automatically.
Simply put, Replit just works, so you can focus on teaching. Here are a few more reasons why teachers tell us they love Replit.
Fun for students
Teachers can’t stop telling us how much their students love Replit.
Anyone can code once they see how fun and creative it can be. Replit makes it easier for teachers to light that spark for their students!
Joseph Fall (college CS professor at Capilano University) explained that setting up a programming environment on a computer is hard, looks different on different computers, and students “can actually screw up their system.” You often lose students before you’ve even started teaching. But with Replit, “within 10 minutes of the first class, students can get their hands on code and start messing around with it.”
Dave Dwyer told us that before Replit, “your first day and a half was getting students to figure out the software.” But with Replit, “the setup time is about nothing...by the time I’ve explained the instructions, half the kids are ready.”
We firmly believe that no first-time CS student should have to to spend their first class aimlessly following instructions and not even getting to code!
Code on any device
Because everything’s online, any student can code with Replit on any modern device.
In districts like Melissa Schaeffer’s (with a 1-to-1 Chromebook program) or Dana Deuitch’s where students can’t install programming software at home, Replit works perfectly. Another teacher, Jenn Demers, took advantage of this newfound portability by asking kids to get feedback from their families at home, noting “the ability to do that and know that...no kid is at a disadvantage, is really awesome as a teacher!”
And Chromebooks aren’t the only device that students are coding on. Jenn Demers said, “I have a bunch of students who only have iPads who are interested in coding, but their parents aren’t ready to commit to buy them a computer.” About 55% of her students are coding on iPads. Another high school teacher, Trevor Lane, even has a couple of students using cell phones to develop programs.
With Replit Teams for Education’s efficient feedback tools like Google Docs-style conversations right on the code and unit-test and input-output-test based autograding, teachers spend more time teaching.
Many teachers told us their complex grading workflows before switching to Replit. They described elaborate exchanges of papers, USBs, and emails, tediously downloading files to test them locally. Beth Stoudt shared that she even had to drive back to school half an hour away to sit on a bench outside the school building just to get on the network so she could download student work to review.
And the benefits of Replit go beyond just saving time. Melissa Schaeffer called Replit’s autograding a “godsend.” She was able to cover an extra month of material, bring in guest speakers, and add Python to the curriculum, which students were begging for. She also saw fewer cheating incidents because students could test their work and keep working at home, and she could review the code history.
Using Replit multiplayer, students can easily collaborate in real-time. They’ll learn real-world professional skills like pair programming and peer mentorship. Joseph Fall even noticed that students who use multiplayer tend to do better in his classes.
Multiplayer also gives shyer students a discreet way to ask for help. Ruth Page explained that in her classroom, “some of my kids don’t really like for the other students to know that they’re struggling and so they’ll send me a quick message in the chat.” She can then jump in and get them unstuck, and the students don’t fall behind.
Approachability for teachers without a CS background
As more and more schools are requiring computer science, there’s a lack of teachers with formal computer science training. These courageous teachers, Beth Soudt explains, “have learned everything on the go.”
Shane McReavey taught Social Studies until last year. Some of his peers struggled to teach Computer Science the old way with Eclipse and other downloadable programs. He told us, “I never had to go through that frustration at all to begin with. I probably wouldn’t be volunteering to do computer science if that was the case.” And Dave Dwyer, who used to teach History, said “I found Replit intuitive, fun, and very user friendly.”
In addition to the ease-of-use of the Replit tools, the Replit team and other teachers in the community are always there to help. McReavey said, “I can’t say enough about the people I’ve had contact with.” Tenaz Purdy has been active on the Replit education Facebook group that brings teachers and Replit staff together, and said, it’s “like real time Help Desk support, they’ve been very receptive to new ideas.”
Taking coding beyond the classroom
Building upon what they learned in class, many young coders use Replit to keep building things with friends from school or from the Replit community. We’ve seen side projects, startup businesses, tutorials, games, online competitions, and more.
Many of these students join the friendly and inclusive Replit Discord server with around 10,000 young coders from all over the world. 60% come from outside the US! While about half of the community first started using Replit in school, many others don’t have access to formal CS education.
Nathan, one of our community managers, knows many kids who joined the Discord after seeing their first programming tutorial on YouTube. A lot of these new coders come to make Discord bots on their iPhones and stick around when they realize how much they can do. They’ll start posting questions on the Discord, and more experienced programmers quickly answer. It’s a virtuous cycle of learning and teaching!
One of these young coders is Lily Khan, a teenager from India, who was intimidated by programming before finding Replit. When she was just starting out on her coding journey, she stumbled onto the Replit Discord. She quickly made friends, learned and helped teach others, and before long had even won a coding competition! Lily said finding the community was “likely one of the best days of my life.” You can read the whole story on her blog.
Plus, check out some more of these amazing projects built by young coders on Replit!
- Coding Minecraft instead of just playing it >_
- Customizing the look of the Replit website >_
- Developing an app to manage laundry, events, COVID-19 tracking and more for their university >_
- Iterating on the minimum viable product (MVP) for their startup while learning how to code >_
Imagine all the incredible things your students will create with their coding superpowers!