Khan Academy offers JavaScript as their first computer language

John Resig of jQuery fame outlines why Khan Academy decided to offer JavaScript as their first computer language. With video, of course.

Khan Academy, the wildly successful series of free instructional videos, proved YouTube is good for more than kitten videos. Now an educational powerhouse, Khan Academy has trained "students" in a variety of math and science topics, and decided to add a computer language to their topics. There are many choices, but Khan Academy settled on JavaScript.

Khan Academy viewers skew young, so keeping their attention with something fun and graphical that provides some early success feedback is critical. Resig admits JavaScript, as a language, has its warts and issues, but so do all languages. And since young programmers to be must start somewhere, Khan Academy decided JavaScript is where to start.

Great choice

Just to further support this, we actually teach JavaScript as the first language in our Mobile degree program at Full Sail University.

Mike on ejohn.org

What really "sells" for JS is that it's probably the only language currently with which you can start to write interesting programs with graphics (go HTML5 canvas) without actually installing anything

Eli Bendersky on plus.google.com

Students can do very interesting things very quickly. The aim for the first programming module or course should be to get students interested in programming, and for that JavaScript is the best language in my opinion.

Anne-Gaelle Colom on ejohn.org

Meh choice

Teaching it it as language can inculcate incomplete software design ideas.

Senthil Kumaran on plus.google.com

A big issue in using javascript as a first language is the “all numbers are floating-point” problem. The behavior of floating-point numbers is extremely non-intuitive unless you know how they work.

Jason on ejohn.org

IMO it's a bad choice for a first language. Too many concepts to grasp.

Alex Plugaru on plus.google.com

With Javascript being the mess that it is I doubt it would be a good starting language, it has too much idiosyncrasies.

vasco on news.ycombinator.com

Deep in the weeds

I completely agree about === and never relying on “” and 0 being falsy.

David Flanagan on ejohn.org

But does this result in a better outcome for the student? How many other commonly used programming languages use prototypal inheritance?

brown9-2 on news.ycombinator.com

There will never be consensus on the "best" first language, because the choice of programming language depends on so many outside variables. But it seems that if anyone can make JavaScript a good first language, it will be Khan Academy.

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