GDL Presents: Women Techmakers & Codecademy

Uploaded by GoogleDevelopers on 17.12.2012


ANGELA LIN: Welcome to our third episode of Women
Techmakers Give Back with Codecademy's Sasha Laundy.
My name's Angela Lin, and I work on the
YouTube Education Team.
I work with partners like TED, Khan Academy, and edX to
ensure that anybody can learn anything through YouTube.
Prior to Google, I worked in entertainment.
I started my career off at NBC.
If any of you have watched "30 Rock", you can think about
Kenneth the Page.
I was a page at NBC.
Google's not just about work, work, work.
I also love to dance and try out all the good eats around
San Francisco.
With that, I'll hand it to my co-host Bridgette Sexton.
I'm Bridgette Sexton.
I'm on the Google for Entrepreneurs Team.
My team focuses on how Google can foster entrepreneurship
around the world.
We do this through a number of things, partnerships with
groups like Startup Weekend, our own programs, where we do
educational outreach and actually help try to figure
out where entrepreneurs can fill some white spaces and do
awesome things on the web and mobile.
And we also look at our products, how our products can
actually help entrepreneurs grow their business.
Before this, I actually worked on the Google Africa Team for
two years, based out of Ghana and some out of Kenya as well.
Google [? four ?]
[? five ?].
Before that, I just enjoyed a lot of traveling.
And I also do some things out of work, running, mainly,
running to work, biking to work, and a lot of cooking.
But I have been fortunate to just be surrounded by awesome
people here and impressive women.
Today, we're actually joined by one of
those impressive women.
Sasha Laundy, who was the fourth employee at Codecademy.
And Sasha, would you mind introducing yourself?
I'm really excited to be here today.
This is a really cool series that you guys are doing.
And I'm really honored to be invited.
I currently work at Codecademy in New York.
And I was the fourth employee there.
We've doubled in size since I started back in February.
And before that, I lived in San Francisco and enjoyed all
the good eats around San Francisco.
And I worked at Twilio, which is a telephony API based in
downtown San Francisco.
Before that, I was developer intern at this really tiny
gaming startup, pre-funding, a very different
experience than Twilio.
Before that, I was a high school teacher.
I taught physics and neuroscience at high schools
in Connecticut and San Francisco.
And so I did a big switch into tech, while I was here.
It sort of was in the water in San Francisco, I think.
And I'd be happy to talk about all that today.
So I'm looking forward to chatting.
ANGELA LIN: Well, you have a fascinating background.
And we will get into it.
But first of all, why don't you tell us a little bit about
What types of coding lessons do you use?
I spent some time on the site, actually.
Admittedly got a little bit hooked, myself, with one of
the courses.
I think that's one of the things you mean to do.
ANGELA LIN: So tell us a little bit about your target
market and what you guys are up to.
If you've taken a look at our website-- now might be a good
time to do that--
we offer interactive programming lessons in HTML,
CSS, JavaScript, Python, and Ruby.
And our aim is to get people hooked on programming.
I think it's really important that programming is seen as
something that's interesting and can solve real problems
for people.
Because otherwise, young people won't get
interested in it.
And we've got a big shortage in developers right now.
So with our interactive lessons, you're able to--
we don't make you do any installation or downloads or
configuration, which can take a really long time and really
isn't very fun.
The fun part is the coding.
So we let you get started on that right away.
So there's a console on the front page of our website that
asks you to type in your name.
And you start using strings right away.
So you just get going coding.
And we make sure that the lessons on our site are
interactive, so you can actually learn by
doing, learn by coding.
Instead of having to pick up a book and read hundreds of
pages, you can just get started right away.
We also make sure that the projects we have people doing
are really practical.
So instead of doing sort of an esoteric math problem-- and
don't get me wrong, I love math problems,
definitely love math.
But not everyone does.
And so we make sure that the projects that people do are
really practical.
And so they feel like they could pick this up and use it
in whatever job they have to become more effective and
maybe do things faster or more powerfully
than they could before.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: That's awesome.
How many users do you guys have currently?
SASHA LAUNDY: We have millions of users.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: That's awesome.
And how has the teaching of code evolved over time, from
10 years ago, 20 years ago, to what you guys
are teaching today?
And how are you seeing that encouraging more?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
I wasn't learning programming 20 years ago.
But we have this rise of interpreted languages that
abstract away some of the really difficult parts about
programming, like memory management
and things like that.
And so there are languages like Python, which are great
to learn programming with because They get rid of a lot
of the syntax that can really trip up beginners and help
them really focus on the concepts.
We're also able to put these lessons online, which we
weren't able to do before.
But now we've got this pretty massive web application that
lets you emulate all these programming
languages in the browser.

We can host these sorts of lessons online in a way that
we couldn't do 10 or 20 years ago.
So the advances in technology and the internet are making it
a lot easier to teach people in new ways.
So instead of the book and then computer combination,
we've merged the two.
So the instruction and the actual practice and learning
happen in the same console.
ANGELA LIN: So it seems like you have a really innovative
course creator, where, like you're saying, anybody can
actually teach a course and put a course together.
Tell us a little bit more about that and if you have a
favorite course that you've created, that
we should be taking.
As you say, we've got a course creator tool.
So anyone out there who's interested in teaching the
world how to code can pick it up and create a lesson that
looks just like the ones that we have on our site.
And we've got this system to help you.
We've got feedback at every step of the way.
And we've got a few thousand beta testers who are like
champing at the bit to get access to the newest courses
and test out those courses and get the bugs out before they
launch to the mainstream.
So we help you, basically, learn this new format.
And there are some really talented people who are great
at programming, great at explaining, and this lets them
reach a huge audience.
Because we've got users in more than 100 countries, and a
huge range of people taking our lessons.
So I'd love to see what you'd come up with there.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: I saw you guys were offering kits for
after-school classes now.
How is that going?
SASHA LAUNDY: It's going really well.
And let me tell you a little bit about why we did that,
because I think it's important to understand that.
Particularly for the sorts of people who are watching this,
it's important to understand what's happening with the
kids, especially in the US right now.
We've actually seen a decline in the number of computer
science courses, both AP level and entry level that are
offered in the US.
And teachers are less and less prepared to teach those
classes which is a problem, because the internet is not
going away any time soon.
Technology is here to stay.
We hope the internet is not going away any time soon.
SASHA LAUNDY: And Google is doing a great job in helping
it become here to stay and keeping it useful and huge and
So technology's not going away.
And it's becoming increasingly important that people
understand how technology works when they use it-- that
they're not just consuming the technology, but they have some
understanding of how it was made.
And this is impacting field after field after field.
You've seen what's happened to the music industry in
the last few years.
It's going to revolutionize pretty much every industry
that we have.
And so to become relevant and valuable in this modern
society, you have to understand technology and
really understand how things are put together.
Because if you don't, it's very easy for people who have
that power and have that understanding to take
advantage of you and get ahead in a way that you can't.
So schools.
Have you heard of this Estonia news?
It's pretty interesting.
Estonia recently announced that they're going to teach
every first grader how to program.
Every first grader is going to know how to program computers,
which is really interesting.
So Estonia is figuring this out.
And they're like, OK, we have to get ahead of this trend.
We have to prepare our students for this modern
world, this brave new world.
And they're taking the appropriate steps.
But the US is actually cutting computer science classes.
So we've talked to a lot of passionate teachers who
understand that this is a problem, and they know they
need to prepare their students.
And so we, basically, instead of having them wait a year to
get trained and maybe wait another year for their school
district to add in the computer science classes, what
we've done is we made a computer science
kit club in a box.
So they can pick this up.
They have all the lessons, all the curriculum.
We even made like photocopyable posters, with
cute robots on them.
So they photocopy them and put them around their school
announcing their club.
Some stickers, because everyone loves stickers.
And we've made this free for anyone who signed up.
And we put it up on the web.
We didn't really know how many people would be interested.
We made 250 kits and hoped for the best.
I think we had 2,000 schools sign up in the first month and
a half, which blew us away.
So there's clearly a ton of demand for this.
And this isn't just in the US.
It's all over the world as well.
But with these kits, teachers can pick this up, get started
today, even if they don't know how to program, which is
crucial, because since the students get feedback on our
website, they don't need to know how to program, because
they don't need to be grading kids homework or
anything like that.
All of the backup support they need is in the forums or in
the tool itself.
And it's just a really useful tool.
So we've been hearing lots of stories and getting cute
pictures from teachers who are using this to teach kids how
to program.
A lot of really adorable games have been emailed into us.
Even a few programming jokes, which always makes our day.
And so we can't wait to see what people do with it in the
spring semester.
ANGELA LIN: Are you thinking about doing some sort of
hackathon to encourage these students to compete, maybe,
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great idea.
We haven't set that up yet.
But we've been supporting a few people who are interested
in putting together hackathons that are
more focused on beginners.
So they're starting to see hackathons, instead of a
competition, where you go and you already have skills, as a
way of acquiring those skills and meeting new people and
learning new things.
And so it's interesting seeing how the definition of a
hackathon is being broadened.
And we're able to support people in that, because we
have these lessons that people can use and teach their folks
in the hackathons how to program.
ANGELA LIN: That's really neat.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: How have you seen the kids who go through
this program, and also other people in your courseware use
that and apply it in their own lives and create technologies?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
We've seen a few different things.
We've seen people who actually make the switch from some
other career to programmer.
So they become professional developers,
which is really cool.
They start with us and generally add on more
Because, right now, our curriculum is really focused
on beginners.
And we've also seen people pick this up and add skills to
their own skill set in their own field, without becoming
professional developers.
There have been a few groups that are particularly
interested in this.
Librarians are very much ahead of the curve there.
Journalists and scientists are also some other groups that
we'd seen form their own study groups and apply their
learning to their own fields.
And there are also two individuals, two
stories I can tell you.
One is this guy who took our JavaScript lessons and managed
to put together an app that's a workout app.
It picks a random workout for you.
He based it on our dice game lesson, which is early in our
JavaScript track.
And he put on the app store and got 100,000 downloads in
the first few weeks it was up, which was pretty cool.
So technology lets you reach more people than you ever
could before.
It let's you reach people who aren't near you, aren't in
your field.
And so that's another reason why it's so important to
understand technology and be able to create it, not just
consume it.
And one other story, which is this woman named Martha who is
an 18-year-old in Kenya.
And she got an internship and managed to get a hold of a
laptop and the internet for the first time.
And she found our lessons and got
hooked on the Ruby lessons.
So she quit her internship, saved up enough to buy a
laptop, and is now working as a Ruby on Rails apprentice
developer in Kenya.
And so she's been helping us out with, actually, some of
our code on the site, which is pretty cool.
So we hope to hear many more stories like that.
And if you've got one, please share it with us.
We'd love to hear it.
ANGELA LIN: So right now, I'm just curious, the lessons are
very interactive.
And it's basically more focused on text.
And I have to ask the YouTube question, because I'm asking
from YouTube point of view.
Are you guys thinking about incorporating video, at any
point, into the product?
SASHA LAUNDY: We would love to.
I think there's a role for video.
Just watching videos, I think, is a step
in the right direction.
But combining it with video plus being able to interact
with the material could be really cool.
So let's talk about that afterwards.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: And also besides having courses on the
web technologies, which is awesome, do you have any plans
of moving more towards having some mobile programming
classes, like potentially Android?
We would love to.
And to do Android, we'd need Java, right?
SASHA LAUNDY: We would love to.
The tricky part about putting Java in the web is that it's
compiled language, right?
So that adds some technical hurdles for us, in terms of
implementing it.
But we would love to.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: We had an emulator at one point.
We still do.
So maybe that's a potential way that you could write it.
SASHA LAUNDY: OK, let's talk about this [INAUDIBLE].
It's certainly very requested.
Lots of people are writing and asking for Java
and asking for Android.
ANGELA LIN: So Sasha, you gave us a
brief bio in the beginning.
You sound like you have a really interesting background.
Tell us a little bit more about what got you into tech.
Maybe even when you were a teacher--
are there things that Codecademy's enabling now that
you feel like, if only I had this tool when I was teaching?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
Yeah, I think my story is a good example of why I'm so
passionate about what Codecademy is doing and why I
made the leap to move to New York and work for this company
when it was so tiny.
Someone, I still, to this day, don't know who, added
programming to my sophomore year of high
school course schedule.
And I was like, OK, why not.
I don't know what this C++ is.
But I took this class.
It was in C++.
And I really enjoyed writing programs.
I got really into it.
It was like solving a puzzle.
But the projects we did were so boring.
It was like formatting a receipt from
your restaurant bill--
that I was just like, why would I do this when I could
do physics?
And so I went off and I studied physics and I ended up
majoring in physics at Swarthmore College.
And that was great.
But as I got to know people who were in the computer
science program there-- and there's a great computer
science program there--
I got to see that they were doing really interesting work
and solving really interesting problems.
And I took a computer vision class, where we had to try to
identify faces, just based on the pixels, and write an
algorithm that found your eyes.
That's one project we did.
And it was only at that point that I figured out cool
programming was.
And so I really wish that I'd had a much more engaging
experience that got me hooked much younger, because I would
be much farther along, in terms of my own programming
skills, than I am now if I had gotten started earlier.
So I'm really excited to get lots of the new generation of
kids hooked on programming really young.
And so, yeah, that's why I think it's so important to
make it fun at first.
It doesn't have to be fun the whole time, right?
There are frustrating bits of it.
But it's really important that people's first impression of
programming is practical, interesting, and engaging.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: You probably never thought you'd be where
you are, right now, today.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: It's a pretty awesome transition from
being a teacher into what you're doing now.
We love scale at Google, so the idea of scaling education.
Especially YouTube is huge into that.
And I think that we look at great content as being a key.
How do you guys keep your content fresh?
How do you know what to teach next?
Or are you really focused on the basics?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
And we're doing a combination of refreshing and focusing on
the basics.
When you get started, you have to understand a certain number
of building blocks, conceptually, in programming
to be able to build anything, for loops, if...else
Variables are a really tricky concept for beginners.
So we need people to learn some of the basics before they
can do interesting stuff.
So right now, we're focusing on that.
But we're gradually expanding it as well.
So there are more and more--
we launched projects this past week, so you can pick up what
you've learned and build something cool with it.

Sorry, tell me the second part of your question again?
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Just staying fresh, like staying up to
date, it's such a challenge.
SASHA LAUNDY: Thank you.
We do a lot of testing to make sure that our lessons are
working for people.
So we have a lot of metrics.
We gather a lot of feedback.
We make sure to refresh the courses, so that they're as
high quality as possible, and so that people stick around
and learn as long as possible.
So we're doing a combination of adding to our curriculum
and refreshing what we already have as well.
ANGELA LIN: When a new course is created, is the vetting
done by the beta testers that you were talking about?
Or is there someone on the team that actually goes
through first?
SASHA LAUNDY: A combination.
So when you pick up the course creator tool, and you create a
course, we offer feedback at a few stages.
Someone from Codecademy currently looks at your course
and gives you feedback on it for the first stage.
And then once it's moved over to beta testers, we've got
thousands of beta testers who have signed up to test the
latest courses and give some feedback on it.
And so they do a great job of finding any of those rough
spots, things that might not be super clearly explained, or
any bugs in the submission correctness test.
And they find those and expose those, before the course goes
out to everyone else, which is super helpful.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: We actually have a question, on our Dory
here, for what is the best web languages to learn.
This is from New Jersey.
SASHA LAUNDY: I think I might know who that is.
It might be one of our beta testers.
What is the best language?
What are the best languages to learn.
So this guy seems like he's just getting
started with [? DOM ?].
Where should he start?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
And I think that's one place--
I know, when I was starting, I got totally overwhelmed by the
number of things.
I was like, I have to learn HTML and CSS and Python and
Django and Ruby and Rails.
And like, oh, why not throw in some [? Scene, ?] because
that'll teach you memory management and fundamentals,
all the stuff I missed because I wasn't a
computer science major.
And I think it's really easy to get overwhelmed.
But picking one thing that's a good fit for what you want to
do and just learning that and like getting to
it, have a good time.
It doesn't particularly matter what you pick up, as long as
you pick it up and stay with it until you learn the
And when in doubt, I'm a Python girl.
Python's a great all purpose programming language.
It's pretty easy to pick up.
It teaches you the same concepts that you'll need for
other languages.
So, when it doubt, Python.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: And Google loves Python.
We love Python.

ANGELA LIN: I guess related to the first question, we also
have one around the best sequencing.
So you wee talking about which ones-- and Python.
There's definitely tracks that you can go down.
Is there a recommended sequence of tracks?
You're referring to tracks on our site?
So if you take a look at our site, we've got tracks that
guide you through.
And that's another thing we do, because we found that
beginners get super overwhelmed.
And they don't know where to start.
And so we've created these tracks that make a really
linear path, just to get them started.
And we find that, once people go through those tracks, they
can then understand the choices they're making much
better and can make better choices and feel less
overwhelmed by the choices that they have.
But in terms of going through the tracks, if you're a
complete beginner, and you're a little scared, that's fine.
You're not alone.
Trust me.
We get emails from those people all the time.
But I recommend starting with what we call the web track,
which is HTML and CSS.
You'll make a first web page.
It's not technically programming.
Lots of people would say, hey, that's not programming.
But it does get you familiar with a tool.
It gets you understanding that the thing you write and the
final product are two different things.
And you can make a cool web page.
And then you can learn JavaScript, which lets you
make that web page interactive and do cool stuff.
ANGELA LIN: I'm writing that down.
SASHA LAUNDY: So web track first if you're nervous.
If you've done some programming or already made
websites before, I'd recommend starting with Python, Ruby, or
Oh, and we have a new jQuery track, which is really cool.
Because jQuery is a library of JavaScript.
So there's all this pre-written code, all over the
internet, that you can use.
So you don't have to write as much, but you can do really
impressive stuff, like fade in, fade out, like sliding,
accordion web pages and stuff like that.
So that's actually a pretty fun and flashy way to get
started if you want to impress your friends.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: What are some of the favorite things
that you've built using your skills?
Especially transitioning from neuroscience into coding,
probably bringing some of that background with you.
But even just some fun, flashy website, what are the things
that you've created that you are proud of, that you've
enjoyed, that have been fun?
SASHA LAUNDY: And I haven't managed to work my
neuroscience skills into this yet.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: I was imagining some digital
encyclopedia of awesome neuroscience--
SASHA LAUNDY: Ah, I'd love to do that.
SASHA LAUNDY: Unfortunately, I haven't figured out how to do
that yet, how to combine the two yet.
But I'll think about it.
I think one thing that having technical skills and knowing
how to program has really helped me do a lot of
different things in all these different roles I've had in
the tech world.
Here at Codecademy, it helps me understand how hard
programming languages are both to implement, for our
engineering team, and for how hard it is for
people to learn them.
Because I've learned enough of them to understand where the
stumbling blocks are and what might be an appropriate choice
for a beginner.
And it also allows me to fix things.
We're a really small team.
We're 12 people now.
And so when there's a bug that's maybe noncritical but
interfering with people's learning, I can pick it up and
fix it in our code base and push a fix that our engineers
can deploy.
So it saves them some time, gets more done for our users,
and is a hugely useful skill.
I'd highly recommend learning how to program, especially if
you're interested in the tech world.
ANGELA LIN: Tell us a little bit--
you founded Women Who Code, right?
ANGELA LIN: Tell us a little bit about that.
So when I was living in San Francisco, and I was making
the switch over and learning as much programming as
possible, I found that it's somewhat challenging to be a
woman in the tech community, especially in the technical
community, because there's so few women there.
And sometimes people would assume I was a recruiter at
events or what have you.
And so I really just wanted a place to be where I could talk
to other technical women, get to know them, and just talk
about code.
And so I put this meetup on the calendar.
This was, I think, August, 2010--
Sorry, blanking on the date--
just over a year ago.
And I was like, man, I hope 10 people show up and code with
me, because I'm going to feel really silly if
no one shows up.
And 100 people signed up for the first event.
So I was blown away by the interest.
Basically, the organization hosts hack-nights and tech
talks for women in program.
They can be beginners or professional developers, but
we come and sit in the same room and share what we're
working on and help each other and get to know each other.
And so seeing some of the connections that have come out
of that have been really cool.
People have gotten hired.
They've found mentors and mentees.
They've found friends.
I know I hired someone I met through that.
So that's pretty cool.
And it's really taken off.
There are chapters starting up in Denver, Arkansas, LA, as
well as, maybe, one in Canada, coming soon, to be TBD.
And there's a Silicon Valley branch as well.
So it's nearby if you guys want to check it out.
And we recently hit 2,000 women, which is pretty cool,
for something that's spreading by word of mouth on Twitter
and Meetup.
And it's really providing a safe space for women who want
to meet other women and know that they're out there.
ANGELA LIN: And what about inspiring young women who may
not be in the professional world yet, but who aspire to--
or you want to get them interested in coding and the
tech world?
SASHA LAUNDY: It's really important, because, again, to
be honest, I think programming, as a profession,
as a field, as a passion, has a huge marketing problem.
It's seen as something that's only for really geeky white
guys in a basement like typing away.
But it's so much more broad and interesting than that.
And I think it's really important to get young people
interested, especially young women, just because, for some
reason, we're not telling the right story
to them at the moment.
And there are a lot of organizations that are
interested in doing that.
Women Who Code is focused on professional developers.
But there are all sorts of camps.
There's one called Black Girls Code that runs workshops.
There's Girls Who Code out in New York.
There are a ton of ways to get involved.
So if you're interested in teaching high school kids,
even just call up your local school and be like, hi, I'm a
professional developer.
Is there a computer science teacher who would be
interested in like maybe me coming to speak one day or
helping out with programming classes?
There are tons of people who could use your expertise, so
just get in touch.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: That's awesome.
Well, speaking of this, do you have any role models yourself
that have kept you going in life, like people that you
aspire to be like or even mentors along the way that
have helped you?
SASHA LAUNDY: Yeah, absolutely.
And so many people who have inspired me and helped me.
I was thinking about this question the other day.
And I was remembering my Halloween costume when I was
eight years old.
I handmade my own costume.
I was Athena.
I was really into mythology.
I went through a mythology phase.
ANGELA LIN: I think everyone goes through that phase.
There's this D'Aulaires' book with the
colored pencil drawings.
It's beautiful.

I apparently identified with Athena enough to dress up as
her for Halloween.
And she's the Greek goddess of knowledge.
And she's a bit of a warrior.
So that was, I think, a good role model for little Sasha
back in the day.
But since then, there have been so many professionals--
I wanted to be a scientist for a really long time--
and people in tech who've built amazing
things out of thin air.
That's the thing I love most about this community and
startups is that you take a computer and a command line,
and you build this amazing product that helps change
people's lives.
So I'm just really excited to be part of this community.
And maybe some other people will follow me down this road.
ANGELA LIN: What's something that you have on the horizon
that you want to build?
Maybe you don't have all of the skills yet to build it, or
it's just the time or the energy.
What's something that you've always wanted to do?

SASHA LAUNDY: So I have this list on my computer of the
things I should program.
And it's really long.
Some of them are silly ones.
I've got some chat bots for-- we have this chat
program that we use.
And you can write little programs in it.
And some of them are silly like that.
Some of them are major features on our website.
And some are smaller tweaks.
But knowing how to program changes the way
you look at the world.
So that when you know what you can do with a skill set, you
start seeing things to build everywhere.
It's like goggles, like Google Glass.
And all of a sudden, you can see all these things that you
can change.
So I have a very long list.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: That's awesome.
We another question from an audience member, which is, do
you have a favorite code editor?
And he says he's also a beta tester for you guys.
That's awesome.
SASHA LAUNDY: Thanks for the question.
I really like Sublime Text 2.
It's really beautiful.
It's a program that you can open and start using right
away, so it's got a very low barrier to entry, highly
I've also been learning Vim recently, which I stopped--
this is very nerdy--
learning Vim just because the keyboard shortcuts--
you have to use a lot of keyboard shortcuts to use it.
And I switched to the Dvorak keyboard, when I was bored one
summer in college, and I've never switched back.
So it's really not optimized for me.
But now, I'm just sort of like--
it lets you do so many things so much faster that I'm
picking it up anyway.
So it depends on how much time you want to spend learning
your text editor.
If you don't, Sublime Text 2.
If you want to invest the time, Vim.
ANGELA LIN: So you were talking about, you switched
over to the-- you were just bored?
In college, you've got time in the summers.
And, apparently, I wanted to type faster.
And so I switched to Dvorak.
And here I am, too lazy to switch back.
ANGELA LIN: Can you buy a laptop with a Dvorak?
SASHA LAUNDY: You could.
I just touch type.
SASHA LAUNDY: Yeah, very nerdy.
ANGELA LIN: Let's see, another question.
By the way, you guys should send in questions, because
we're actively looking at the Dory.
I'm in high school in a data structures
course that uses Java.
What languages should I learn after Java, and what are
recommended future routes?
From John in New York.
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
And I think it really depends on what your goals are.
If you want to learn the fundamentals of computer
science, Java is a great start.
There's some others that are particularly interesting.
You could check out a functional language.
I know Haskell is really trendy in the hacker
community right now.
If you're interested in more going to web programming,
there are all these interpretive languages that
you can learn.
So it really depends on what your goals are.
Sorry I can't give a more specific answer than that.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: I actually would like to go back a little
bit to the schools and talk about, what do you think are
some of the things that teachers, educators, people
can do to encourage more kids to take that first leap into
Because I know it's a global concern that we need more
programmers and developers, both from a professional
level, but even just sort of that knowledge base of people
understanding how code words, how their computer works, and
demystifying technology in that sense.
SASHA LAUNDY: Yeah, I think that's a great question.
How do we get more people interested?
I think it's important to see how powerful it is and what
you can do with a little bit of knowledge.
Because there are only a small subset of people that like
learning programming for its own sake and think it's
inherently interesting.
For the vast majority of people, they're interested in
what you can do with it.
So showing people what they can do and showing people role
models that look like them are both really important.
ANGELA LIN: And related to that education question,
there's so much happening in the ed tech space in general
right now, how do you view Codecademy in
that broader landscape?
And have you made connections with other people who have
that same mission to help educate students
all over the world?
SASHA LAUNDY: Absolutely.
There are a lot of people who are interested in
this space right now.
And there are a lot of people who are taking different
approaches, a lot of new companies who are taking
different approaches to get to the same goal.
There are some people who are more video based.
There are some that are starting up in-person classes
or this hybrid model, where you do some stuff in-person,
some stuff online.
And then there's the approach we're taking with an
interactive console.
So it's really interesting to see which methods will be most
effective for which people.
So I'm really curious to see how the next few years go in
this space.
Because there's so much energy and excitement and venture
funding there right now, which is a sign of where people's
attention is.
ANGELA LIN: I think you hit on a really good point.
Different people learn differently.
And so how do you address that at Codecademy, in terms of
learning styles.
Some people are more visual, other are more aural.
SASHA LAUNDY: I think the research shows that the
learning style, in terms of audio or visual, actually
doesn't make a huge difference.
Because every person uses all those styles at different
points and different times.
So I think it's really a question of matching the skill
that you're learning to the method in which you're
learning it.
I wouldn't try to teach someone to juggle by video on
the internet.
That's not going to work-- or like
cartwheel or dance or whatever.
That's really challenging, because the medium
doesn't fit the topic.
But for programming, you actually learn by doing
You don't learn by reading.
If you think about it, you want to learn how to write
programs, so you read a book.
That doesn't make sense.
But if you want to learn how to
program, you should program.
And this gets you as close as I've seen to melding the two.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Now, I think we have one
more question here.
Do you have any plans for PHP or Java courses?
But I think you already have them.
SASHA LAUNDY: We don't yet.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Oh, you don't.
SASHA LAUNDY: But those are definitely some of the most
requested languages.
People really want to learn PHP.
They really want to learn Java.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Do you have a date coming out?
SASHA LAUNDY: I don't have a specific date, but we are
working on it.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Do you want to launch it,
right here, right now?
SASHA LAUNDY: Yeah, just a second.
ANGELA LIN: Put that on your list of things to build.
SASHA LAUNDY: It's on there.
Trust me.
I'm sorry we don't have it yet.
We will soon.

ANGELA LIN: Anything else that you would like to share with
the audience at large.
SASHA LAUNDY: I think there's a lot of the
conversation about--
and I'm saying this as a former teacher, because I see
both sides of this argument.
There are a lot of people who say that, because all this
content is shifting to the web, you can learn anything
you want in these MOOCs and these video sites and on
Codecademy and all that, that teachers, as a profession, are
going to be replaced, sort of become out of date, or shift
to being computerized in some way.
And I think that's really, fundamentally,
misunderstanding what teaching is.
Teachers are a lot more than content delivery robots.
They also get to know you and push you when you're stuck and
reward you and coach you and help you and cheer for you
when you're succeeding.
And they are able to contextualize all those
generic resources that people have-- the textbooks, the
video sites, whatever.
They're able to contextualize those and put them in a form
that works for the individual learner.
And that's something that computers are never really
going to get that good at.
The content delivery part is actually a great help to
teachers, in that they no longer have to do that as part
of their jobs.
They're able to be freed up to spend more time, one-on-one,
with students, which is really their strength.

I would love to see teachers tell that story and that
narrative about this change, so that they can gracefully
make that leap into the next stages.
Because again, this technology isn't going away.
It's here to stay.
And it's going to change and get better.
But teachers definitely have a place in this world.
And I think it's a really interesting one.
ANGELA LIN: Before we let you go, we have another question
from the Dory, from Jim, in North Carolina.
I'm currently making a career change after being a
journalist for 10 years.
As someone who made the transition smoothly, what kind
of advice would you give.
SASHA LAUNDY: That's a great question.
The transition was super interesting.
I'd love to know actually what he's transitioning to.
Did he mention that?
ANGELA LIN: He did not say.
Jim, if you type in your answer really quickly, maybe
we can get to it.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Sounds like a transition into at least
something in the tech space.
SASHA LAUNDY: And I can tell you, roughly, what I did to
make this transition.
A year before-- because in teaching you have to give four
months notice when you change fields, which
is a long lead time.
So a year before I made the switch, I started going to
meetups around--
I had the advantage of being in the Bay Area, which has a
different meetup every night, on whatever you want.
There's people here doing it.
And so I got to know people in the industry.
And I learned more about the field to make sure I wasn't
crazy and that I would have something to contribute.
And one really important thing that I did is I built things,
and I showed them, so that people
knew that I was serious.
I built programs and showed them.
I worked for free for a startup for a while, building
their product alongside the CTO.
I started Women Who Code.
People were very impressed by that, because it's taken off
so quickly.
I built things to show that I was serious.
And they were things that were free and weren't like years in
the making, but they were showing that I was thinking
about the field in the right way.
So ask lots of questions, listen hard, and build cool
things, and take it from there.
MALE SPEAKER: Sasha, there was one question on YouTube that
goes back to teaching.
How can teachers who are in the classroom now leverage
Codecademy with their students?
SASHA LAUNDY: That's also a great question.
I think one thing that the lessons really free teachers
up to do is to, again, spend that one-on-one time with the
kids who need it.
So because the content and because a lot of the feedback
is actually in the tool, and teachers don't need to supply
that themselves, they can spend a lot more time
one-on-one with individual kids who might be struggling,
or kids who finish our curriculum in five minutes and
need more stuff to do, which has definitely happened.
So one model that a lot of teachers are exploring right
now is the flipped classroom where they do their reading--
and what they used to do in class, the sort of knowledge
absorption step of read the thing, get it into your brain.
They do that at home.
And when they come in, they work on homework, they work on
problems, they write little programs.
And that's when the teacher's input is actually most useful.
So having this content on the internet, whenever, available
from wherever you want is great because
they can do it home.
And then they can use the classroom time more
So that's one thing we've been hearing a lot
of good things about.
And we'd love to hear more about how it's working.
Last good question.
Besides starting amazing organizations and working t a
world class institution, what do you do for fun?
What do you do outside of work?
SASHA LAUNDY: What do I do for fun?
That's a funny question.
I've been very focused on Codecademy recently.
But I'm pretty athletic.
We're actually a really athletic office.
By far the most athletic tech company I've ever seen.
We all go for runs, sometimes together, and go to the gym.
When I lived in San Francisco, I did a lot of cycling.
That's a little bit harder to do in New York, because the
roads are little more interesting.
But I really like sports.
I love science.
I miss it a lot.
I like writing.
And I love cooking.
Don't get to do it a lot anymore.
It's really hard to do in New York.
And I actually like knitting.
And I see a lot of parallels between knitting and
So I can make pretty much anything you want.
It's a really esoteric skill.
Helps keep my hands busy.
And I have lots of scarves now.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Yeah, I actually
started knitting in college.
I ran track in college.
And I used to knit on the bus, because there was nothing else
I could do.
And it was hours and hours and hours of it.
SASHA LAUNDY: A good use for it.
That's cool.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Well, thank you so much for joining us.
We really appreciate you taking the time.
This has been a really fun series.
I think, globally, we've realized how many amazing,
impressive women there are out there.
Maybe there isn't a chance for them to get exposed as often
as they should be.
And you're doing a great job bringing that to light through
Women Who Code.
So thank you so much.
SASHA LAUNDY: Thanks for having me.
This was a really cool series.
And I can't wait to see what other great
people you have on here.
Thank you for having me.
ANGELA LIN: Thanks for being here.
BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Viewers, thank you for joining us.
We have another session tomorrow, with Kim Pelosi.
And it'll be here at 2:30.
So please, come back and join us again.
Thank you.