KillerPHP Blog


Career Oriented Code Curriculum for Middle School and Up.

February 22, 2018

Schools are starting to realize that a code curriculum should be real-world focused.  That means students come away with both conceptual, and practical coding skills. Unfortunately, many courses/solutions offered today only offer conceptual learning.

… There are no jobs in block based coding, or in using code snippets to move a character around a screen.

How to easily teach both conceptual and practical coding

The best way to accomplish this, is through a web design and development based curriculum. The argument for teaching code with the web languages (HTML, CSS and JavaScript,) can be summed up as follows:

  1. HTML and CSS are visual, and so very engaging.
  2. School don’t have to buy special software to create websites. In fact, there are many free optionsthat can be used to teach with.
  3. You can build websites on any type of computer. Even older computers are more than powerful enough for web coding and programming. Windows, Mac, Chromebooks, Linux computers … can all be used.
  4. Web design and programming skills are in high demand. Students come away with skills that have economic value, whether they enter the job market, become freelancers or start a company of their own.

Besides the teaching advantages of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, the web coding languages are only gaining in popularity in industry. Not only are they used to create websites and web apps, with popular libraries like React Native and PhoneGap, web based coding languages are starting in take over mobile app creation.


Because of the aforementioned advantages:

  1. Web languages teach both conceptual and practical coding.
  2. Works on any computer.
  3. Fun and engaging for students.

… I personally believe web based coding courses will become the preferred way to teach code in the classroom.


Stefan Mischook

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Great Alternatives to Dreamweaver for the Classroom

February 20, 2018

This is a common question I get from teachers:

When it comes to teaching web design, what is a good alternative to Dreamweaver?

A few things to consider:

  1. Most professional web designers DO NOT use Dreamweaver.
  2. Teaching web design with Dreamweaver introduces an extra layer of complexity for no good reason. You have to teach BOTH Dreamweaver and web design.
  3. Dreamweaver is expensive compared to many alternatives … especially considering the free software out there! 🙂

Side note: I’ve been teaching code and programming since 2003, and web design is a great vehicle that you can use to teach code with.

… Wed design is great (to teach code with) because it’s visual, easy to learn, and cross platform. Heavy tools like Dreamweaver try to hide the code from users, but that hides the most important aspect of learning web design: writing actual code!

Great code editors for your students

There are many great options to choose from that are free, and you have options for all types of computers:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Chromebook

Taken from the StudioWeb QuickStart Guide:

Sublime Text – for Windows and Mac:

Notepadd++ for Windows:

Brackets for Mac and Windows:

Caret for Chrome and Chromebooks:

TextWrangler for Mac:

Stefan Mischook

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Coding Courses that Teach Real Code!

November 17, 2017

Writing snippets of JavaScript to move a character 2 steps to the left, doesn’t teach kids anything about programming … at best, it’s a cheap replacement for an xbox controller.

… One teacher called me up recently, telling me how after the initial excitement student’s had moving characters around with code snippets, students fell into a pattern of typing in commands blindly to move the character, and quickly got bored.

In the end, students ended up not learning much of anything.

Teach real-world coding can be very fun for students!

When I first developed the StudioWeb program and curriculum 7 years ago, I wanted to teach students how to actually code real projects.

Most of the courses offered out there, are created by programmers who have no understanding of education. So they all fall back on the erroneous idea that to make coding fun, kids should use pseudo-code (fake code) or code snippets, to move characters in a game.

… But as I mentioned before, this type of course, doesn’t actually teach real coding.  As any programmer / coder will tell you, it is the concepts behind the code that matters.

Have students write real code to learn code:

I come from a family of teachers, and have been developing code course since 2003. I was able to leverage that experience to produce a curriculum that is both engaging, and still teaches students how to write real code, using the most important computer languages today:

  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • JavaScript
  • Python
  • PHP
  • SQL

Added benefits (to students) learning to code:

I see the value in teaching coding beyond the obvious job opportunities:

  1. Logical thinking
  2. Problem solving
  3. Deferment of gratification
  4. Organizational skills
  5. Digital awareness which can protect them from scams

… Etc.

So even if the kids don’t code in their future careers, they still have much to learn by learning to code.

But I also recognize that I am as biased as you can get!

Stef Mischook

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Learning to Teach a Python Course

September 7, 2017

One of the first questions teachers ask us:

” … how long will the PD be, in terms of learning how to teach a code class?”

Whether you are teaching Python, JavaScript or just a basic web design class, with the StudioWeb app and curriculum, the real truth of the matter is, it take practically no PD at all!


Teacher and Student Feedback 

It has taken us 6-7 years to polish our app and curriculum, but StudioWeb has been refined to be amazingly easy to teach a code class with … so, there isn’t much prep required. Teachers are happy to discover how quickly they feel comfortable leading a code class with StudioWeb.

In a nutshell, the prep with StudioWeb is:

  1. Watch our PD videos on setting up a StudioWeb class. It’s really, really easy since you just have to give account ids to students.
  2. You can do the course(s) as a student does them … to get familiar. Since StudioWeb has a powerful hinting system … students can never get stuck, which means you never have to answer code questions. So even doing this is not really required.
  3. Since SW does all the grading automatically, you don’t even need to grade!

If you would like to learn more about teaching code with StudioWeb, you know what to do!


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Middle School Web Design Courses that Teach Actual Code!

August 21, 2017

A teacher called yesterday looking for a web design course that teaches real web design coding skills. Like other teachers I’ve personally spoken to, she understood that dragging around blocks on screen, where the app writes the code for the student, is not nearly as effective as the student actually writing the code!

… Teachers quickly discover that students don’t learn much about coding with blocks.  🙁

So many code courses fallback on the misguided practice of using block-based teaching apps, thinking that this is helping students. As the teacher observed herself, with these systems, students quickly get bored and just follow the pattern.

Teaching code by having students write the code

Our experience has taught us that for students to actually learn to code, they have to write the code, make the mistakes, and get the feedback as they learn the languages of web design: HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The StudioWeb app provides instant feedback and hints, to help your students as they code.

Motivate your students!

Nothing motivates a student like seeing their code produce actual real-world results!

With the StudioWeb web design curriculum, your students interest levels will skyrocket, as they quickly see their code magically transform into websites that flex and flow on small smartphones, all the way up to giant 4k displays.

… Web developers call that ‘responsive’ design and your students will learn those marketable skills with StudioWeb.

If you would like to learn more, check out



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