Codecademy’s new mobile app gets users into the “hour of code”

The “Hour of Code” initiative, launched Monday in association with Computer Science Education Week, has a simple premise: in just a one-hour lesson, users can learn the basic fundamentals of code or a variety of tutorials to expand Computer Science knowledge. Codecademy ¬†hopped on the initiative with its first iPhone(s aapl) app, released today, fittingly titled Codecademy: Hour of Code.

codecademy app1The free app synthesizes much of the introduction material available on Codecademy’s website to create five new, mobile-focused lessons that explore the foundations of code within the hour-long time limit. But despite its total run time of 60 minutes, Codecademy co-founder Zach Sims stressed to me that the experience is designed for “snacking”: “Do Codecademy on line, on a walk, in transit and use that time to be productive and learn skills instead of playing games,” Sims said in an email.

Sims also said that this is the beginning of Codecademy’s foray into mobile: the startup will continue to add new courses to the Hour of Code app, but also work on future mobile applications.

“We think people need to learn these skills to help them make things and work well in the twenty-first century – and they need to learn everywhere and at any time,” Sims said.

Coding through a mobile app is particularly interesting because it breaks down one of the biggest preconceived notions of learning Computer Science — that it must be done in large chunks, lesson-by-lesson, to build the right foundations. It’s easy to see why Codecademy took a more casual approach to its mobile app, since people often use apps on and off during the day. But it will be interesting to see whether this approach will actually inspire users to code beyond that hour¬†— the real value comes if people code for life.