We are very excited to announce our new AP Java course on CodeHS. This is a project that has been in the works for years, and we are thrilled to let teachers and students start testing it out today. This course is jam-packed with amazing content, features and tools on both the student side and teacher side that make it the most modern and engaging way to to teach or learn AP Java.
Why AP Computer Science in Java?
The AP Computer Science in Java course is still the standard for computer science at the high school level. Our main course at CodeHS is the Introduction to Computer Science course and we still recommend taking that before diving in to the AP Computer Science test. Students who take the AP Computer Science in Java course can learn the Java programming language, fundamental computer science principles, as well as earn college credit.
The AP Computer Science test has also been a barometer for the lack of accessibility and diversity in computer science education. It’s a rigorous course, and most schools simply aren’t able to teach it. In 2011 only 5% (2,100 out of 42,000) schools taught AP Computer Science . However, in the last year from 2013 to 2014, AP Computer Science saw the largest percentage increase in test takers from 31,117 to 39,278 .
In 2013, no females took the exam in Mississippi, Montana and Wyoming. No one took the exam in Wyoming. 11 states had no black students take the exam. 8 states had no hispanic students take the exam .
In 2014, 27 states had 6 or fewer black students taking the AP Computer Science exam .
We believe that by offering this course to schools, teachers, and students, we can help improve access to these important opportunities. We’re at a time in computer science education where it is crucial to make sure all schools are able to offer these courses.
What is in the CodeHS Course?
The CodeHS course is an end-to-end course for helping you teach AP Computer Science in Java at your school or district. It’s built for beginner teachers as well as computer science teacher veterans, and we consulted and worked with both groups when building this course.
In the same style as our first course, we provide a web-based course, with short videos, examples, and exercises with the ability to run Java code in a web-browser. The course also comes with lots of teacher tools to help you manage your class like student progress tracking, a gradebook, and lots of teacher resources. Our course is mapped directly to the AP Computer Science College Board curriculum requirements, and gives you the flexibility to use the course as is or modify it to your liking.
There’s also a few new components of our AP Java course that we are excited to highlight.
Karel the Dog in Java
Unit Test Autograding
One thing students certainly need when learning any programming language, or learning any foundational concept, is practice. We’ve built new tools that allow students to write standalone methods and get immediate unit test results.
Soon teachers will be able to create their own problems with their own unit tests. It just runs Java code so it can handle very simple problems as well as complex algorithmic methods.
Now we have unit test problems for students. They can write methods and get immediate feedback on unit test results.
Write Java in a Browser, Run on a Server
In many AP Computer Science in Java classes, teachers spend a lot of time trying to get students to write their first program. You’ll need to download a lot of files, learn about IDEs, learn how to install and run programs and it can take a few days before students can write any code. That is one of the big benefits of teaching intro to computer science with CodeHS—you avoid this overhead to getting started. Now you can do the same with Java. Students just open a web browser and can write their first “Hello World” or Karel program in minutes. You can write programs with a standard main method, or we also provide some I/O scaffolding to make the first programs a bit easier.
But Java doesn’t run in a web browser. So, we’ve built a system that lets students code in web browser, and then it runs the Java code on our servers, and handles input and output! You may have seen other demos that do this, but those often were very limited to console arguments or confusing interfaces.
This also handles multiple files, so you can teach classes the way you want to teach them.
Quizzes Just Like the Test
It’s an AP test, so there is a larger focus on multiple choice questions across a wide range of topics. Every video has a quiz following it to check for understanding, and every unit has a larger 25-question unit test. These all build up to many practice AP tests, all in a web-browser with immediate feedback and reporting.
Who is the course for?
The course is built for students and for teachers. You can take it at school, or you can take it at home as an independent study. It’s built to be used by schools looking to teach AP Computer Science for the first time as well as by veterans who have been teaching this class for years.
For new teachers, we have all the pieces you need to get going. We have a blended curriculum, with lots of teacher resources, and an easy to get started environment for students. There’s autograding and lots of quizzes.
For experienced teachers, we provide lots of customization. You can modify the course by changing out the videos, creating your own problems, and creating your own autograders. By using our tools your students get more immediate feedback, write more code, and you get to spend more time helping your students.
Signing up and Scholarships
For schools who want to sign up, the CodeHS AP Java course provides great value. It’s less than a new set of textbooks and about the same cost as the AP Java test. Yes, that’s right—you are getting hundreds of hours of modern and engaging curriculum, advanced and customizable teacher tools for about the same price as a 3 hour test.
In order to help improve access to computer science education to underrepresented groups, we are also offering 200 scholarships to students to our full-online course, with grading help from CodeHS tutors, which is $1000 value. You can share this opportunity or apply for a scholarship here. (Scholarship applications for the 2015–2016 school year are now closed).
I want to use this at my school!
If you are interested in teaching the AP Computer Science in Java course at your school you can contact us at [email protected]If you are a student, a parent, a teacher, or administrator, we’d love to hear your feedback.
The beta for the course goes live today. We’re excited to hear what you think, and hope we can help you make teaching the AP Computer Science class an excellent experience!
— Jeremy Keeshin
co-founder of CodeHS
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