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  • 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.

  • BRIDGETTE SEXTON: Thank you.

  • 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.

  • [INAUDIBLE]

  • 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?

  • SASHA LAUNDY: Sure.

  • 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

  • Codecademy.

  • 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.

  • SASHA LAUNDY: Yeah.

  • ANGELA LIN: So tell us a little bit about your target

  • market and what you guys are up to.

  • SASHA LAUNDY: Sure.

  • Absolutely.

  • 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.

  • SASHA LAUNDY: Sure.

  • 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.

  • BRIDGETTE SEXTON: We hope not.

  • 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

  • interesting.

  • 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.

  • Estonia.

  • 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