General Assembly further expands its virtual footprint with online tool for learning to code

Over the past three years, General Assembly has opened up campuses and offered classes on technology, business and design in cities around the world, from New York to London to Sydney. Now, the company is upping its efforts to expand in a digital way.

In April, it launched Front Row, a subscription-based online library of classes, including on-demand video and live video streams. On Tuesday, it rolled out Dash, its first interactive online tool, which teaches students how to code.

Plenty of online resources, from Codecademy to Khan Academy, already provide aspiring hackers with interactive programs and video tutorials for learning how to code. But Brad Hargreaves, co-founder and chief product officer for General Assembly, said Dash was first intended to be an onboarding tool for students enrolled in offline web development classes. When the company saw students’ positive response to its project-based approach, he said, they decided to open it up to the public.

DashThe free tool, which it started testing with General Assembly students in April, provides wannabe coders with narrative-based lessons set within the context of various scenarios. For example, learning to build a website involves helping out your friend “Anna,” while creating a small business site is part of getting “Chef Esha’s” new restaurant off the ground.

For now, Dash only offers four projects, but Hargreaves said they plan to “double down” on the site with other web development lessons. And, he added, down the line, the company could potentially build out other interactive learning tools for subjects outside of web development.

“We see a bright future for online education and we see opportunities to build out other topics as well,” he said. “Making Dash available to the general public is part of a larger strategy of broadening our online content to enable students not in range of a General Assembly campus to get additional resources.”