Last spring I tested a new code learning platform called Blackbird. As I wrote in May, I liked it and most of my students liked it. This fall, Blackbird introduced an updated user interface and a new “Coding as a Conduit” tagline. Blackbird’s mission remains the same as before. This mission is to help teachers introduce coding to their students.

How it works

Blackbird is a platform that tries to bridge the gap between using block editors like Scratch and blowing students into a full-fledged IDE without any built-in support resources. Blackbird teaches students how to write code (in particular, JavaScript) through a series of short guided lessons before challenging them with a few “lab projects”. Along the way, there are many easily accessible help resources that students can use without having to leave the code they are writing.

What’s new this fall
Last spring I did this short video on how to use Blackbird. The concepts are the same as when I made the video, but the user interface has changed to make it easier for students to find lessons and for teachers to see their students’ progress. Blackbird has released a new video that shows what the current user interface looks like. This video is embedded below.

Blackbird Product Tour – Fall 2021 of Blackbird to Vimeo.

Applications for education

If you have a lot of experience teaching coding and programming, Blackbird maybe too simple for you. But if you are new to teaching coding and programming, Blackbird is a great choice because it will walk you through all the activities and lessons before your students do.

Another update from using Blackbird last spring is an improved integration with Google Classroom that makes it easier to import your Google Classroom lists and view your students’ progress throughout lessons.

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