Our New Product: CodeLesson

CodeLesson LogoJust realized I haven’t made mention of our new product CodeLesson here yet (if you’re a Twitter or Facebook follower this will probably be old hat to you). CodeLesson is a place to take instructor-led online training courses. We’re doing technology courses today ’cause that’s mostly what we know, but later on we’ll be doing other types of courses and open up what we’re doing to anyone who wants to teach.

My wonderful wife Carole (who has a Master’s in education) is advising us, and our partner for this project is the indefatigable Ernie Hsiung, late of Yahoo and Ning, who has been working with us on some consulting projects in the last few months and is a really splendid chap.

We have several courses outlined on the site right now, two of which are taking place soon:

Web Programming with PHP (starts September 7). This is a very gentle introduction to Web programming for anyone with a good handle on HTML and CSS. It’s a twelve-week course which will be taught by me. The curriculum was also developed by me in cooperation with the University of Victoria (I’ve been teaching for them for a year now).

Introduction to Web Publishing with WordPress (starts September 20). This class is short (five weeks) and not super technical (no programming). The objective is to help you run your own Web site using the free, open-source WordPress content system. You start with a clean Web server and get all the information you need to set up, configure, work with and customize WordPress.

Online learning is a big deal in the US right now; with the University of California’s move to establish an all-online bachelor’s degree program, it’s safe to say that online learning is approachingĀ a tipping point. But universities and private trade schools have a number of institutional barriers to producing consistently good online courses: they’re constrained by the calendar (they can’t vary the duration of a course because they’re on a semester/quarter schedule), they only teach what their professors happen to know, they innovate at the sluggish pace of a university bureaucracy, there’s a bias toward courses that will support the notion of an expensive campus and against courses that are practical and current, there’s no incentive or infrastructure for instructors to share course content, and a lot of departments and instructors just aren’t attuned to giving their curricula online (many of them actually perceive online learning as a threat). CodeLesson aims to fix those and many other problems by providing a net-native learning experience and eventually opening the experience up to anyone with the desire to teach and learn.

Are there online courses you’d like to take that we haven’t thought of yet? Do you have any questions about the format or content of an online course? Let me know in the comments!