Learn to Code with Grasshopper

By Tracey Dowdy

 Google has announced that Grasshopper, its tool for teaching kids – or coding newbies like me – how to code, is now available on the desktop through a web-based app as part of its Grow with Google initiative to create economic opportunities for everyone.

Grasshopper launched in 2018 out of Area 120 – Google’s workshop for experimental products – as a mobile app for both Android and iOS. According to Google, “millions” have since downloaded the app to take advantage of the easy to follow lessons.

The desktop version seems a no-brainer. The larger screen, as well as access to an actual keyboard, makes learning to code on the desktop significantly easier than on your mobile phone or tablet. The new interface aligns columns for the instructions, the code editor and the results next to each other so it’s much easier for users to see track what they’re doing and follow the instructions Each lesson has hyperlinked definitions to common coding terms like “function,” “string,” and “argument,” so beginners don’t get lost before they even get started. They’ve also introduced two new classes in addition to the original “fundamentals” class on basic topics like variables, operators and loops. The new classes are specifically designed for your laptop or desktop: Using a Code Editor and Intro to Webpages.

The Using a Code Editor page is especially useful as most of the coding experience in the first few courses focuses on clicking short code snippets and putting them in the right order as opposed to typing out code by hand.

 Grasshopper’s Intro to Webpages course is a project-based curriculum focused on building and designing a website from scratch. Beginner coders will learn the Javascript fundamentals necessary in building a website, plus new HTML and CSS-based coursework. Google promises that after just four courses, beginner coders will understand how to build a simple webpage.

 Once you’ve completed all of Grasshopper’s courses, you’ll be able to build a simple webpage. If you’re still intrigued and want to tackle more complex courses on other platforms, check out sites like Codecademy or Coursera.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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