TECHNOLOGY

How Southeast Asians Can Learn to Code Through Crowdsourcing

Discover the best online programming tutorials

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 17 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

There are a plethora of resources available online to learn programming, but deciding which to use can be a herculean task in all its own.

“Programming is the new literacy. Everyone wants to learn to code and make a dent in the universe. But we observed that learning to code is very hard. People enter programming world in a very enthusiastic way, but their passion quickly peters out because they don't know where to start,” says Saurabh Hooda, the co-founder of Hackr.io.

Hooda explains that this statement holds true for every programming language. A basic search for any language, even the most obscure, will yield hundreds of courses. Choosing the best out of this lot is next to impossible, an experience that Hooda and his co-founders have personally experienced.

They taught themselves to program in a scattershot, roundabout way. “Our learning to code journey involved reading lots of programming blogs, reading a few books, and then taking 4 to 5 online courses. It was a dark alley process,” he says, noting that with crowdsourcing technology, people should no longer have to go through this complicated process.

Hackr.io is Hooda’s attempt to address this problem. According to him, Hackr.io is a community where programmers recommend the courses and tutorials to other existing and aspiring programmers. Each submitted tutorial can be up-voted by community members, the mechanic similar to the one used on social news site Reddit. The value proposition is straightforward: Get started with the best available programming courses, now.

Hooda differentiated Hackr.io from competitors like MOOC List and Class Central, pointing out that they are more an aggregator of all courses, along with their respective ratings and reviews.

 

Hackr.io’s users

Their target demographic is anyone who wants to learn how to code, but the majority of their 100,000 users are between 18 and 34 years old. 45% of these users hail from the United States and India, while the rest come from over 100 different countries.

Many of these users are students who want to break into the software industry. The value for them is that they can start at the correct leveling.

“Sometimes beginners start a course based on a recommendation from an expert in the field but they soon realize that the course is too advanced for them. Experts recommend courses as per their proficiency level whereas the programming community gets the recommendation right nearly every time,” he says.

In one instance, a user wrote Hackr.io to share that he had gotten stuck on a paid Python course and was no longer making any progress. When he discovered the Python tutorials on Hackr.io, he was able to find one that was much more effective.

Many of their users are gainfully employed programmers who want to make a horizontal shift into another software domain.

“Programming is a very dynamic field, and languages get updated very frequently, so Hackr.io gets even expert developers who want to learn a new language/framework or newer version of the same,” he says.

Hooda identifies reaching out to more programmers as the company’s main challenge. They help out developers in various programming forums and communities, and many of their users are obtained through these channels. Though this kind of user acquisition may seem tedious, the users they successfully get are very vocal.

“Once they find a great course on Hackr, they spread the word about Hackr in their circle of friends, and that's been a major source of new users for us,” Hooda says.

While Hackr.io has been focused to this point on helping users find the best courses, Hooda says they are developing two new features to help them complete them as well.  

“These features will help wannabe programmers engage more with [their] peers and mentors in the programming community hence increasing course completion rate,” Hooda says, noting that the global drop out rate from online courses is a whopping 85%.