Coding Christmas: Codecademy lets you code your own holiday card

If you want to wish your favorite technophiles a happy holiday, you can do more than send them an e-card, you can make them one.

On Monday, Codecademy launched a DIY program that lets anyone code their own holiday card in a drag and drop environment that also enables them to see the HTML and CSS behind them. To create the “CodeCards,” you select from a variety of backgrounds (like a snowy landscape or a row of Christmas stockings), objects (ornaments, snowmen, etc.) text options and effects (falling snow or music). For each component of the card, Codecademy provides the code, which you can then copy and paste (and manipulate if necessary) into the coding environment.

Once they’re created, you can share the cards with friends, as well as see the most popular cards and others recently created by users.

CodeCard1 Codecademy“We think project-based learning is super important and this is an awesome way for people to apply the skills they’ve learned with Codecademy, or elsewhere, and make something cool to share with their families and friends,” said Zach Sims, CEO and co-founder of the New York-based online learning startup.

On its site, users have long been able to choose from a range of courses that help students learn  the basics of coding languages, such as Python and Ruby, as well as how to build specific features and tools, such as a tip calculator or a recipe card.

But earlier this month, the startup launched Codecademy Projects — a new set of courses that help students build concrete applications, such as a CSS-styled button or a web form — to take things to a higher level, Sims said. The CodeCards launch is another example of the company’s larger focus on project-based learning. There are more online options than ever before for learning how to code — and, as we’ve written about previously, Codecademy has been masterful in encouraging a growing learn-to-code movement. But I think the company’s bigger emphasis on projects and kits (an approach also embraced by new rival LearnStreet) is a smart way to give people coding lessons around the things that they’re interested in and then, ideally, get them interested in some of the platform’s other classes.