Why “I Think This Could Work” Never Works

Olivia Cabello joined Vidcode as a UX Designer through the Fall 2016 SPIKE Fellowship. She's currently getting her Masters in Integrated Digital Media at NYU Poly.

Olivia wrote the following blog post reflecting on her time at Vidcode.

Before adding new features to my designs, I often catch myself thinking “This feature might be useful” or “I think the user could benefit from this”. I get really excited about this great idea I had (don’t we all think our ideas are great?) and am determined to implement it. I’ll admit it, I have been guilty of passionately defending my ideas and trying to explain why it’s the ultimate solution. It’s difficult to stop yourself when this happens. When we think of a solution that could work, it’s hard to take a step back and figure out why this works (or in many cases, why it doesn’t work). This natural state of mind can be dangerous and can harm the quality of your work. At this point, you might ask yourself: “How can I avoid making a big design mistake?”. Well, I asked myself the same question during my time working on the teacher site redesign at Vidcode, and here is what I learned:

1. Ideas are just assumptions
    and assumptions are almost never good. I mean, it’s a good start, but in the end they will remain just that: a start. While I was creating my first mockups for the new Vidcode teacher site, I had so many different ideas on what I should add to the pages. My thought process went a little bit like this: “I think it would be great if I added a student progress graph here, a teacher training link there, and maybe even a page with all the student info.” While I would personally prefer to have all this information if I were a teacher, the truth is that I will never know this for sure because I’m not really a teacher. This is when user testing and research comes in handy. Your assumptions of what features should be included in your design only become valid when you have results to back them up. If you have real evidence in the form of quantitative data that your idea is good, you instantly gain more credibility. Who would you trust more? The designer who says “I think adding a student progress graph would be cool” or the one who confidently states that “ 90% of the teachers who tested my prototype had an easier time visualizing how their students were doing in the class thanks to the new student progress graph”? Taking your assumptions to the next level through user testing and research is what makes you a reliable user experience designer.

2. Most of your time should be spent researching and testing
    I know, I know. There is usually little time for testing and research when you’re supposed to be presenting your designs in only a few weeks. However you should really make time for at least some kind of testing, even if you don’t have access to many resources. Working at a startup usually implies that you don’t have the means to recruit a large number of participants for testing sessions. However, this does not mean that you should skip this step of the process altogether. Since I wasn’t able to bring in many Vidcode clients to test my prototype, I created a “clickable survey” using my mockups instead. In this survey, I gave participants a simple task such as “Where would you click to add a new student to your class?” and they would have to answer by clicking on the corresponding area in the mockup. The survey would generate heatmaps displaying where participants were clicking in the mockups and I would then evaluate them to see whether the results match my expectations. While this method is definitely not perfect (I probably would’ve gotten more accurate results if I had watched participants navigate through an interactive prototype), I was still able to learn a lot about the way teachers were interpreting my designs. Through this very elementary remote user testing method, I was able to learn more than I would have if I had solely relied on feedback and research.
3. A user testing session is not equivalent to a feedback session
    This point is extremely important. Sometimes when we are talking to our users, we want to get straight to the point and ask them for their opinion on a feature we thought of. While this might be a good step when you’re brainstorming and researching, it is not good enough to call it a user test. The main issue of asking a user for feedback is that the answer you will receive is not reliable data.  Saying that your idea for a feature is good because a client said so is basically just backing up your assumption with another assumption. Truth is, sometimes users don’t know what they want. The best way to find out whether a feature would solve a usability problem is to watch the user interact with it. If I were to ask a teacher whether it would be useful for them to view all their students’ information in one page and they said yes, I would get a hypothetical answer. However if I watched the teacher completely ignore this page during a user testing session, I would get a definite answer. Long story short, actions speak louder than words.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of integrating lots and lots of testing into your design process. In the end, being a user experience designer implies meeting the user’s needs and learning what how and for what purpose they use your application.

Hour of Code: 5 Tips and Tricks

Hour of Code is approaching! 

Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week (the 2016 Computer Science Education Week is December 5-11). 

It's a week to build and learn with code - anyone can do it. CS Education Week is meant to provide a time for schools, teachers, and communities to set aside a small amount of time dedicated to exposing students of all backgrounds to the world of CS opportunities.

Join the movement and introduce a group of students to their first hour of computer science with these five tips and tricks!


1. Offer your students tutorials that fit their interests

It's no secret that students want to build things they love. Since your students have different interests, offer them different tutorials!


Vidcode has fun new activities for students with diverse interests, ages, and experience levels. These tutorials are created to be self-guided for students, and require minimal prep time for teachers.

  • Code the News teaches students how to create the effects they see on news shows on tv.
  • Bestie Greeting Card lets students create a card or invitation using code and graphics inspired by Girl Scouts.
  • Climate Science and Code works best in a Science classroom, and encourages students to research and record a video about a climate fact, and add effects and graphics using code.
  • Code.org has many more activities, including games and art projects, for your students to find something they love!
Projects created for Hour of Code 2016

Projects created for Hour of Code 2016

All Vidcode tutorials cover basic computer science concepts, such as sequencing, creating and assigning variables, repetition with loops, and conditional logic, and follow the principles:

  • Easy enough for beginners to access
  • Ramps up slowly
  • Spiral design
  • Promotes “deep learning”
  • Promotes positive identity, role models
  • Math should be prominent, but not annoying.

Look through all of this year's Hour of Code activities on Code.org, and filter by grade and subject area to find the perfect tutorials for your students. With all these choices, students can be introduced to computer science in a way that's engaging to them!


2. Take advantage of Teacher Resources

Conditionals activity for Hour of Code

Conditionals activity for Hour of Code


All Vidcode Hour of Code activities can be accessed at www.vidcode.io/hour-of-code. Under each tutorial, you'll find Teacher Resources filled with lesson plans, common core standards, other resources and inspiration.

We've released two new lesson plans for Code the News, our newest Hour of Code.  One introduces students to programming as creative and fun, the second is focused on really understanding conditionals (telling a computer what to do if something happens).


3. Unplug!

Not all computer science activities require a computer! This year, Vidcode has two Unplugged Activities for Math and Art classes, that could work in any classroom.


Looking for more? Select 'No computers or devices' under Classroom technology on Code.org to see more tutorials that introduce computer science to students without putting them in front of a screen.


4. See your students' work

To see all your students' work in one place, make an account and add your students to your classroom.

Press 'Create a New Class' and then invite students to join with the URL that gets generated.

From this dashboard, you'll be able to see your students' progress. And if you click on the class name, you can see all their completed Hour of Code projects in one place!

To see more Hour of Code projects and get inspired, visit the Gallery!


5. Keep going after Hour of Code


After the Hour of Code, select some creative, funny, or generally awesome projects and easily share them online, with parents, other educators, and on social media. Make sure to tag us at @vidcode and #HourofCode. We love seeing what students create with Vidcode!

And remember, learning to code doesn't have to end just because Hour of Code is over! Vidcode has a full year of curriculum that makes it easy to keep teaching computer science in your classroom.

Request a quote for your school to keep coding creative projects all year!


Good luck running the best Hour of Code ever!

Accessibility in Computer Science Education

Adding to the easy-to-use interface, users need only drag and drop their ideas and concepts into the video editor to see their creativity and newly-learned tech skills in action.  Aside from making once-painstakingly difficult concepts simple to understand for a younger demographic, Vidcode’s abilities are further demonstrated by its usage in a special needs educational base.  

“We had tried to offer coding to our students in a few different ways in the past,” said Cristina Ulerio, Program Manager for Tech Kids Unlimited, “but this was the very first time that we used a coding program that also integrated video and was very visual – which is an excellent element for special needs education.  That truly made Vidcode stand out.”

Tech Kids Unlimited is a not-for-profit technology-based educational organization for children ages 7 to 19 with special needs.  Within that spectrum, children with Autism and other interrelated learning and emotional disabilities are given creative outlets for learning new technologies and communication tools.   

“Our students are very visual learners, so while we have taught regular coding in the past, we found that it can be difficult for them,” Ulerio continued.  “It’s like learning a new language.  So, the visual aspect of Vidcode intrigued us immediately.  Also, the idea that it integrated video editing, along with coding, was a major plus.  It was truly unique and helped our students learn both of those skills simultaneously.  The students loved it, especially the fact that they were able to use their own photos and videos as part of Vidcode’s customization in the creative process.  It was a perfect fit.”  


Teaching Students to Code at the 92Y

Starting in the summer of 2015 and continuing through 2016-17, New York’s 92nd Street Y teamed with Vidcode to introduce the educational tool to local children with a passion for technology as part of their workshop program.  While aimed at younger students, many adult teachers were quickly grateful for the fun lessons that they, too, are able to take part in.

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“Personally, I am always looking for ways to use technology creatively,” said Kelly Saxton, an educator who oversaw the Vidcode classes.  “Any time you give students a voice, or an opportunity for self-expression, the learning outcome is incredible.  If, for example, you enable a student to learn through creating something from their own mind, they will retain that information easier and stronger.  It immediately becomes more real, eliminating the drudgery and replacing it with creativity – and I love that.  With Vidcode, that esthetic was at work, and I think that the kids gravitated towards learning [the coding programs] because of it.”

The Vidcode summer intensive workshop launched less one year after Vidcode became available.  Educators associated with the camp were immediately drawn to the app’s functions and quickly joined forces to meet their own initiatives: teaching Javascript, “the "language of the web," through creative video projects.  Located on Lexington Avenue in the heart of New York City, the week-long intensive was comprised of five core lessons – and was successful enough that the organizers again teamed with Vidcode the following year.

“The 92Y already offered other creative programs, such as comic art and sculpture,” Saxton continued.  “But Vidcode offered something unlike we had ever had before. I had been teaching digital media for some time and was excited to try their ‘pre-existing framework,’” which you could then turn into anything you’d like, for myself. The students immediately loved the Vidcode modules which showed how animation works, and proved to be an amazing introduction for the kids to learn code.”

Vidcode’s learning curve is primarily based on teaching Javascript in a fun, game-like way.  The app’s state-of-the-art interface teaches the Javascript coding language through lessons built around creative art projects.  Once viewed as a sophisticated and difficult tech language to comprehend, Javascript is instantly demystified by Vidcode’s unique program initiatives – creating video filters, JavaScript libraries, and HTML5 to control how each user’s video will look.  

By playfully creating music videos, short animation clips, and movie special effects, kids and adults alike instantly pick up the skills needed to learn sophisticated coding practices. All of the young students who participated in the workshops stated that their favorite elements of Vidcode’s the user-friendly modules included movie-making, stop-motion animation, and the opportunity to instantly view their final projects in the app’s interface.  

photo 4.JPG

Thanks to the program, all of the students walked away from the experience, eager to learn more advanced techniques in coding and application creation.  

“The kids were able to understand pretty sophisticated concepts immediately,” Saxton added.  “Normally, it would take a little while for anyone to learn the syntax and more-advanced technology of coding and animation, but with Vidcode, they were hands-on and able to create things within in minutes.  I thought that it could even be an amazing learning tool for adults, as well.”

As an education tool, the young students – all of whom were novices in the world of coding and digital creation – quickly learned such necessities as variables, arrays, and various application functions, while retaining the advanced information due to Vidcode’s almost video-game like appeal.  

Computer Science for All White House Summit

This Wednesday, September 14th, Vidcode is thrilled to attend the Computer Science for All Summit hosted by the White House in Washington DC. Vidcode will be included in a set of commitments announced by the White House to expand computer science nationwide.



On Wednesday, September 14, as part of Back to School Week, the White House will host a summit on Computer Science for All. The event will mark progress on expanding computer science (CS) education since the President’s call to action in his State of the Union eight months ago, and celebrate new commitments in support of the effort.
The case for giving all students access to CS is straightforward. Nine in ten parents want CS taught at their child’s school and yet, by some estimates, only a quarter of K-12 schools offer a CS course with programming included. However, the need for such skills across industries continues to rapidly grow, with 51 percent of all science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) jobs projected to be in CS-related field by 2018.

Vidcode has been instrumental in bringing computer science to schools across the country. In New York City, where Vidcode was started, Vidcode has been a key component of the citywide Computer Science for All initiative.

"We're excited to be part of the national movement to bring CS to every student, and are looking forward to the conversations and challenges to come." says Allie, CEO of Vidcode.

Make a Pokemon Augmented Reality Game

The Pokemon Augmented Reality Game Builder is live! Anyone can create a game and watch their friends and family try to beat the high score. Even if you've never built a game before, the tutorial will walk you through it step by step.


Once you're done, share your project and visit the Gallery to get inspired by the games other creators have built! 

How I Learned to Code: A Letter to Other Girls

Hello, my name is Kimora.

I am a rising senior in high school hoping to major in computer science in college, and the Summer 2016 Vidcode intern.

My first exposure to computer science was in Girls Who Code the summer after my sophomore year. When I was filling out the application for Girls Who Code, I didn’t know anything about what it was actually like to be a programmer. In the months leading up to the program, I was very nervous because programming was so foreign to me.

The first thing that I thought of when I thought of computer science was video games which lead to the stereotypical image of some 40 year old man alone in his basement coding. That was definitely not what I wanted to be or who I wanted to work with. I was going through all the worse case scenarios in my head. What if coding is boring? What if coding is too hard for me? What if I couldn't code? I built up so much nervous energy before the program, but I decided to give it a try anyway. Once I was there is was nothing like what I expected. 

Vidcode intern Kimora, on the left

Vidcode intern Kimora, on the left

I know that many girls like me will be thinking the same things that I did before trying it out. The biggest piece of advice I could give girls is to give coding a chance. That one decision I made in sophomore year to has changed the direction of my life. I enjoyed coding.

There are so many different things that can be done using computer science. Computer science is not some untouchable thing that only geniuses can do. Anyone one who enjoys being creative and anyone one who enjoys solving problems can code. Do not let anyone tell you that to pursue computer science you have to give up on your other passions. It can be integrated with anything you choose to work on. It can be applied to fashion, dance, medicine, and many other fields.

Programming doesn’t have to be the only thing you do. It can be a tool. In the end, computer science and programing is not something to be scared of. Take a chance. Try coding. 

STEM Institute - Computer Science Professional Development

This July, teachers across NYC met for three days to find ways to integrate coding into their classrooms across every grade and subject area. Vidcode joined the NYC Department of Education's STEM Institute, working with enthusiastic educators to help them integrate coding into their classrooms.

The STEM Institute participants

The STEM Institute participants

Most of these educators had no prior programming experience, but after three days of learning and creating projects they left excited about the possibilities of teaching their students to code. During the STEM Institute, educators shared their fears, excitement and curiosities about code. On the first day, they met for a Post-It party, where they wrote their thoughts on post-its and place them around the room to facilitate discussion. They answered the questions: what are you proud of, what questions do you have and what do you want to learn in the next two days?


While learning the fundamentals of JavaScript, the STEM Institute participants created incredible video projects, from a role model video where they talked about their own coding journey to animations about vocabulary words to animated book covers.

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On the second day everyone learned about arrays with a Rey Array lesson and a pixel art Post-it project, and used arrays in their projects to make rainbow videos.

On the final day of the STEM Institute, every educator brought in an old lesson plan for a curriculum workshop. They updated their old lesson plans to include a project that gives their students a chance to learn to code.

Educators left the STEM Institute full of energy and the confidence to take what they had learned back into their classrooms.


Shanti Crawford, an NYC teacher, said about the Institute “I am writing to thank you for one of the best professional development courses I’ve ever taken.  It was substantial, social, fun, and inspiring.  A great combo for busy teachers!

With regards to the Vidcode experience—the tutorials are great.  It’s all the best of parts from Hour of Code.  I like having that sidebar with encouragement and quizzes.  Also the built-in projects and curriculum are terrific.

Again thanks.  I am one exhausted teacher at this point in the year so to feel this amount of excitement and inspiration is just amazing.”


Learn more about Vidcode professional development and webinars.

Coding Allows Students With Learning Disabilities to Shine

Originally posted as part of our Huffington Post blog series.


Learning to code is become increasingly prevalent in school curriculum’s. From after-school clubs to dedicated class periods, coding and computer science curriculum are popping up in schools worldwide.

One place surprising place where coding is also increasingly being used is in programs for students with learning disabilities.

There are many benefits of coding for learning and development in LD students. Coding builds important life skills such as organization, higher order thinking, self-esteem, socialization and teamwork, among many others. These skills are intrinsically hard for many children with disabilities such as Attention Deficit Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Autism which affects 1 in 68 school aged children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the National Center for Learning Disorders, “ Many individuals with LD suffer from low self esteem.” Coding builds confidence in one’s ability to learn and create, as well as pride from actually creating something, as opposed to other types of learning, which can cause confusion and frustration in learning disabled students. This builds overall confidence; many learn-to-code platforms are accessible and easy to get started for everyone.

Independence is also a skill taught through coding and coding clubs. “Adolescents with autism can benefit from transition services that promote a successful maturation into independence and employment opportunities of adulthood,” according to Autism Speaks,a leader in autism help and awareness.

One organization pioneering the learning of code in students with disabilities is NY based, Tech Kids Unlimited. Beth Rosenberg, the parent of a learning disabled child, started the organization in 2009, in order to give her son, and other children with disabilities “practical skills and employment options,” which for these kids, Rosenberg says, “is really dismal.”

According to a 2014 study, only about 19 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force, meaning that they were working or seeking employment, and about about 16.8 percent of the these participating were employed, reported by the Autism Society, and Rosenberg is one of the people working to change that through technology skills.

Coding gives LD students “real world skills,” said Rosenberg, “it turns them into producers of digital culture.” It also interests them, and makes them more willing and “likely to socialize,” building the important skill of teamwork and socialization, often lacking in the learning disabled student population. 
Technology learning also appeals to many learning disabled students, including those with autism, who are especially receptive to concrete, non-abstract concepts,explained Rosenberg.

Another group of parents started the nonPareil Institute after they realized their learning disabled children shared a strong interest in technology. The institute provides technical and career training to students with autism with the goal of making their members employable in the tech industry.

An adult with a learning disability, who goes by the Reddit handle shnnycs, successfully works in the tech industry, saying, “I work as a systems administrator and I think it’s great for my ADHD because it’s pretty much a stream of new problems to solve.”

As increasing numbers of parents and educators realize the potential of coding and technology learning in students with learning disabilities, it will be used more often and with increasing success, allowing learning disabled students, and adults, to shine.


Picasso Was Wrong: How coding is leading the future of arts related careers

Originally posted as part of our Huffington Post blog series.


Pablo Picasso, in one of his more famous quotes said “Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up.”

But Picasso did not envision a future where tech and coding would be so prevalent and important. A large number of these types of jobs require computer science skills in equal part to arts. In these jobs you can stay as an artist, using technology as your canvas and Javascript, Python, and other computer languages as your paint. It is a medium that Picasso never envisioned, and it is allowing practical, tech-tistic innovations previously unknown. Without creativity, technology would not be usable.

In our previous blog post,we wrote about STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and math, which was previously STEM), and how STEAM initiatives are widely accepted as building the skills of the future.

STEAM skills will be necessary for a large number of the jobs in the coming years, even in jobs that have historically been non-technical. The US Department of education reports that the number of STEM jobs in the United States will grow by 14% from 2010 to 2020, growth that the Bureau of Labor Statistics terms as “much faster” than the national average of 5-8% across all job sectors.

This means that a lot of future jobs will need to be filled with a workforce that is educated in STEAM. These employees with need to have both technical and artistic skills.

These STEAM careers that combine technical and art skills are already all around us! Brands like Nike, Samsung and Google commission programmers to create marketing publicity installations.

Molmol Kuo is an artist who worked with code to create a three dimensional illuminated map installation for Nike. This structure visualized thousands of people’s Nike+ runs around New York, London and Tokyo.

Kuo also used creativity and code to make another marketing tool for Nike called Paint With Your Feet. The software used data from participants’ runs, including speed, consistency and running style, as “paint,” and was printed onto a physical canvas as user generated artwork, making their run artistic code.

Samsung similarly used coded art installations to market its products, including the launch of its Galaxy S6 Edge this past spring.

Samsung phones were coded to function as pieces in an “instrument” that was used in a press concert by Little Dragon, a popular electronica band from Sweden.

Luisa Pereira, self-described creative technologist, worked on this project. Pereira was originally a programmer who loved the tech world, but wanted more of a traditional arts component in her job. She decided to develop her career into what she describes as “creative technologist.” Pereira has worked on a variety of installations, one of the most notable being Strings, for Google. This structure that was showcased at Google headquarters in California, was a giant stringed musical structure that people could walk into.

Pereira is also a teacher of computer science. “There is always a magical moment when they realize that they can make their own technology,” she says of her students. “There is always an element of creativity when you are working at solving any problem.”

Our own User Interface Designer here at Vidcode, Leandra Tejedor, uses creativity to code and design the Vidcode site. The biggest challenge for her was how to figure out how to create an intuitive coding environment for users who have never coded before. “How do we balance good design with functionality and making sure it is intuitive, how [do we] create this live coding environment.”

Innovation comes from new ideas, which spurn new companies, and products.

One of these products is Dance Watch, an app created by software engineer Catherine Elder. The app,easily installed on any android watch and phone, actually incorporates human movement as code; a user wearing their programmed watch has only to do a dance move from a popular song (as long as it is recognized on the app), such as jamming out and doing the hand wave from Beyonce’s “Single Ladies”. As you are bopping and grooving, the app inputs the movement as code and your Spotify starts playing the Beyonce hit.

The app was both coded into existence, and uses the human coding input to run. “Creativity helps you find real-world applications [to coding,]” says Elder, who also says that “Single Ladies” is her favorite song on the app.

Innovation and start-up companies are by definition creative pursuits, and start-ups are a major driver of the economy, as well as a major driver of innovation.

In an interview with McKinsey, Kiran Prasad, VP of engineering at Linkedin said , “It’s definitely a balance of art and science, and probably more art than science,” in response to the question “What big shifts do you foresee as data and technology start to change the landscape of talent management?”

There are countless jobs and industries that use coding and computer science, and these are all creative in different ways. Some are creative in the way art is, some are creative through their problem solving, and many are creative in other ways. These careers allow room for the child artist we all once were, and put it to practical use as adults.

Why Role Models are Instrumental for Getting Girls Into the Tech Field

Originally posted as part of our Huffington Post blog series.

“A role model is a person whose serves as an example by influencing others,” says the American Academy of Adolescent Psychology (AAAP).

To see yourself somewhere, and in order to make it easier to set a future path, the most useful and motivating tool is a role model; they give inspiration and guidance. This is why role models are instrumental in getting more women into technology fields. It starts from girls.

While celebrity and known business people are the most obvious, and most attractive choice, an easily accessible, in-person role models are also good and useful to girls.

One of the main elements of the DNA at Vidcode is women in tech. Getting women and girls, who have traditionally been underrepresented in this area, into the field of tech and computer science is something that runs deep here, at our wholly female owned and operated tech company, and one way to do that is through role models that have made it into the tech fields.

While role models that have achieved a “celebrity” status are great, such as Karlie Kloss and Marissa Meyer, role models that can be interacted with are most effective for long term success in the field.

According to a study published in the medical journal, Psychology Women Quarterly “Both boys and girls may identify more with the role model whose success seems to be the most attainable—that is, the role model whose success is explained by efforts.”

The study also shows that “students identify more with a role model whose success in math is explained by hard work than with a role model whose success is explained as natural talent or whose success is not explained.”

This is why an in-person role model is important, as opposed to an out of reach celebrity. 
The study’s findings also show that kids benefit more from a role model they can directly identify with, such as a female working in tech, for girls.

An Accenture study said “We can not emphasize enough the importance of role models in identifying women with leadership goals. Our findings show a strong correlation between having a role model and having C-Suite aspirations. “

But finding a role model for yourself or children might seem difficult. So how can you go about this?

A great way is for through clubs, groups or after school activities that are tech based. These groups will have someone in charge who is knowledgeable about the field and most likely has contacts in the industry. Also groups like big brother big sister, or cultural organizations often have professionals that volunteer to generally mentor or teach new skills. Ask for a volunteer that works in the tech industry.

There are many great organizations whose mission is to further women (and girls) in tech, such as The Grace Hopper Organization,Women In Technology International, and the Association for Women in Computing,the Anita Borg Institute, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT), that are trying to get more women and girl interested in technology,and can provide role models.

How Five Girls are Using Science & Code to Save the Earth

Earth Day is this Friday, April 22nd, a day to demonstrate support for environmental protection around the world.

To celebrate, we spoke to the winners of the Girls Code 4 Climate Contest from Altona Middle School in Longmont, Colorado about how they made the winning videos, their interest in programming and science, and how they're helping to save the earth!

Pictured from left to right:  Katja, Alyssa, Sreya, Sudhiksha, and Eilene.

Pictured from left to right:  Katja, Alyssa, Sreya, Sudhiksha, and Eilene.

Q: What was the most exciting thing about doing this project?

Katja:  Recording it was the most exciting and fun- especially the video for it was awesome.

Sudhiksha:  Recording was fun, but also really challenging because we had to fit everything under a 30-second time limit, and we had a lot of information.

Sreya:  It was exciting to know that information that we added to that video could actually have an effect and make the world a better place.


Q:  What was the most challenging aspect of this project?

Sudhiksha:  For me, it was finding an idea.  It was hard brainstorming and coming up with an idea.

Katja:  We had to rush at the end to get everything in, so we couldn’t make it as good as we wanted it to be.

Alyssa:  It was challenging to research and find all the information.

Eilene:  We were rushed because it took us a long time to find our idea.  We switched topics three different times.

Sreya:  Storyboarding took us a really long time.  We had to figure out what we were going to talk about and how to write the script.


Girls coding
Girls brainstorming


Q:  What did you learn from this process?

Sreya:  I learned that we had to manage our time and not goof off as much, but that’s also what made the project fun.  

Katja:  We also learned how to storyboard a video.

Sudhiksha:  I’m going to focus more on what the project was about. I was really surprised about how high the stats regarding climate change are.  I just went with the crowd before and thought climate change might happen or might not.  I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but now I know.  In a few years - decades, Florida will be gone along with a number of other big cities.  It’s mind boggling.

Sreya:  Simple things like not mowing your lawn as much or using less paper - just those small things can make a huge impact to prevent the so-called “end of the world.”

Katja:  My family is very climate-active.  We go to rallies, we participate and learn about it, but I don’t think I ever realized before we made these videos that I was part of climate change - that I had caused it to happen. So now I’ve been making an effort to change.

Sudhiksha:  Since we made that video, I’m always thinking I shouldn’t use so much construction paper.  I remind myself that I should cut from the edges and waste less.  If more people watch the video, they could be reminded too, and that could make a big impact on saving the planet.

Alyssa:  Before we made these videos, I never took climate change that seriously.  Now I’m more aware of what’s happening.

Eileen:  When I was a little kid, I used to love wasting paper.  I would cut it up into little pieces and throw them in the air. Afterwards, I would clean it up and put it in the trash instead of reusing it.  Now I feel like that was such a waste of paper and such a waste of our climate and our future. Doing this video made a large impact on me.


Q: What did you like about participating in the contest and using the Vidcode technology?

Sreya:  The fun thing about Vidcode is that there are so many things you can do.  It isn’t like block (drag-and-drop) coding, which still teaches the thinking patterns.  But with Vidcode, you’re actually using code - JavaScript.  You put it into the video like blocks, but then it shows you the actual code you’re using.

Katja:  I enjoyed using Vidcode because it let me learn.  JavaScript seems really intimidating, and Vidcode’s tutorials made it less intimidating.  You can learn in a fun, non-stressful environment.

Sudhiksha:  Block coding for me was a challenging for me at first, because I didn’t know much code.  Vidcode, which uses JavaScript, was different.  The tutorials had little blocks that would show you what the code was.  You had the tweak the numbers and colors, and you could see the effects right away.  That was really cool.

Eileen:  I started with JavaScript when I was about six years old.  When I started using Vidcode, I was learning more about JavaScript.


Q: How does it feel to be winners and girls in a programming competition?

Alyssa:  Amazing!

Sudhiksha:  I love this feeling because many girls are not considered to be engineers or scientists.  I don’t like gender inequality.  I think that’s one of the top problems of the world. To win against 300 other videos is an honor, and it shows that girls can code.

Katja:  It’s like telling yourself that you can do things you didn’t think you could.  I started this project because I thought it would be a good experience and didn’t expect to win. When Sreya and I won the Runner-Up title, I started to think that I can do things and can make an impact on the world.  So now I’ve entered in a few different competitions.

Sreya:  When people use stereotypes like girls can’t do stuff, I want to prove to other people that I’m strong.  When it came to coding, I was a little frustrated at first, but it’s nice to know we can do it without that gender thing. We’re just sixth graders and we’re girls.  It feels amazing to succeed.

Alyssa:  We proved that girls can do coding and science! 


Earth day in school
The Girls Code 4 Climate Contest winners brainstorming video ideas

The Girls Code 4 Climate Contest winners brainstorming video ideas


Q: Will you continue to learn programming?

Katja:  I don’t plan to make a career out of programming, but I want to learn more.  This semester, I’m doing independent study in computer science class.

Eilene:  I view coding as a hobby.  I like making stuff like games.

Sreya:  I used to hate coding. I used to suck at it. When I came into coding class, the teacher made it so much more fun, and since my friends were in the class, that made it even better.

Alyssa:  It didn’t really mean to sign up for computer science, but as soon as I walked into class and met the teacher, my whole perspective about coding changed.

Sudhiksha:  I love coding. It’s one of my hobbies. I do it for fun.  I’m really interested in being a genetic engineer and that requires a lot of computer and programming skills.

New Possibilities With Code!

Vidcode, the creative learn to code platform, just got better. SO MANY changes to the Vidcode site went live TODAY!
So what's new? Well...


A new project, Famous Filters, is now available for everyone!

Instagram style filters

Learn how to create Instagram-style video filters with JavaScript, save them, switch them, and share them with your friends (learning about variables along the way).




All the projects are new(ish)!

JavaScript dance party

We've been working with the incredible Dr. Em (dancing above) to make all of our projects more fun and intuitive. Every single project tutorial has been rewritten, go check them out.


Is that all? Not yet! We're also releasing a brand new JavaScript effects library.

What does that mean? It means that everything you've always wanted to do (invert your video colors, change text, make effects and creatures with shapes, select infinite graphics) is now possible with code! Read the documentation to learn about all the new possibilities, and check out some of the new projects below!

Uptown funk music video
hex codes


Finally, we're releasing a new media library.

Every movie, photo and graphic you upload gets saved to your account - no more uploading photos and videos every time you want to create a new project. It also means that you can add photos and graphics to all projects, not just specific ones like Meme Maker!



Start coding with our new tools!

Are you a teacher who wants to learn how to use these new features in your classroom? Sign up for an upcoming free teacher training session, or email leandra@vidcode.io for more information.

The Importance of Steam Learning

Originally Posted in our blog series at the Huffington Post



If you are familiar with the technology or educational sectors, you have undoubtedly heard that STEM, which is educational focus in science, tech, engineering and math, is being changed to STEAM, to include the arts. This is an initiative that is being accepted on an increasing scale by institutions, corporations, and education and tech professionals,and we here at Vidcode are totally on board.

STEAM learning is such a hot topic right now, and STEM/STEAM related careers are in such high demand that the Federal Government has just extended a provision allowing foreign students that are earning degrees in STEM fields a seven month visa extension, now allowing them to stay for up to three years of “on the job training.”

But why is STEAM so important to teach kids in school today?

The US Department of Education reports that the number of STEM/STEAM jobs in the United States will grow by 14% from 2010 to 2020, growth that the BLS terns as “much faster “ than the national average of 5-8 % across all job sectors.

Computer programming and IT jobs top the list of the the hardest to fill jobs, according to a recent study done by McKinsey. Despite this, the most popular college majors are not STEAM related.
“The number of graduates in the STEM fields is growing. Only .8% annually” according to the same Mckinsey study. So how can we get more kids involved in STEM, and create a strong and able workforce?

By teaching STEAM, of course.

The inclusion of the arts component into STEM makes it more fun to learn, and more approachable to kids. A child who has never seen code or computer science learning will be less intimidated and more engaged if it includes something they are familiar with, like an art component, whether that is learning it on an interface that uses a creative component to teach it, or whether they are learning computer science by actually creating something, like on our platform, Vidcode.

Children need to be engaged in learning, and learn in ways that can hold their attention, the way social media, and internet sites like Youtube do, The easiest way to do this is to make it fun and interesting. The inclusion of arts does this, for a wider range of children. Something like video art tied into code makes learning look more fun, where the student is solving a problem to create a project they love.

Art education allows students to learn things in a more open ended way and make them applicable to real life. Arts and creativity are crucial to the sciences, technology and computer science.They are the tool that allows technology to be usable in real life! Arts are used in website and user interfaces design, advertising, product design and usability, branding and start-up creation among countless other uses, all things that are crucial to STEM learning and careers.

So STEAM education is crucial to educate and prepare the next generation of the American, and global workforce, and to allow this generation to create jobs and grow the economy.

Follow us on Twitter! : www.twitter.com/vidcode

Happy International Women's Day!


We are loving all of the Woman’s Day Posts on social media today!
International Women’s day is a celebration of “ the social, economic, cultural and political  achievement of women,” according to the official website of the International Women's day campaign. 

All over instagram, twitter, facebook, and the internet, people worldwide are showing their support for this important day. 
We decided to celebrate this day by learning about some amazing women in tech!

First, is a woman that is a popular household name, model Karlie Kloss. Her side hobbies include learning to code,sponsoring a scholarship for girls to learn to code, and encouraging interest in coding among girls.

"Call me a nerd but I love coding, the language of computers. Understanding coding is a superpower. I met some tech entrepreneurs and they are billionaires through learning this stuff. I'm so competitive with myself and I am fascinated by the language of technology so I decided to be part of the conversation,” Kloss said in a December interview with British Vogue. 

Anyone who is using their celebrity status as a platform to support something we too at vidcode are insanely passionate about (after all, our product is built around it!), is a women’s day hero in our book.  

A name every women in tech should know is Grace Hopper, the original woman in code. A Naval Admiral, Hopper was the third person ever, and first woman, to program the first computers for the Navy,  called the Mark 1. Later, Hopper developed the first compiler for computer programming, which is a set of programs that transforms code into computer language, making it usable in program creation. 

She also popularized the idea of a common coding language for computers, which lead to one of the first advanced coding languages. There is a great documentary about her called “The Queen of Code.”

CyFi is a 15 year old female hacker that is disrupting the web security industry. When she was 10, CyFi hacked into an online farming game, manually altering the clock so her crops had more time to grow, pointing out a major security flaw in the games model. 

Shortly after, CyFi co-created r00tz Asylum, which is a “nonprofit dedicated to teaching kids around the world how to love being white-hat hackers. A white-hat hacker is someone who enjoys thinking of innovative new ways to make, break and use anything to create a better world.”

R00tz Asylum runs DEFCON KIDS, the junior version of DEFCON, a conference that is the largest and longest running hacking conference. It is attended by members of organizations that deal with governmental and private cybersecurity, as well as hackers. 

At DEFCON 20 in 2012, CyFi  was recognized by the head of the National Security Agency, Keith Alexander. 

“CyFi”  is a pseudonym to mask this hackers true identity. Sounds like a superhero to us. 

Who are your favorite women in tech?

Announcing the Winner of our Girls Code 4 Climate @EDU Award

Vidcode is excited to announce the winners of the Girls Code 4 Climate @EDU Award! Created in partnership with Millennium@EDU Sustainable Education as a contribution to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the contest invited students from around the globe to create, edit, and submit short videos about the Earth's climate.

So – without further ado – we'd like to congratulate the winners, Sudhiksha, Eilene, and Alyssa for their video “Less Paper = Less Climate Change.” In their video, which they coded and edited in the Vidcode app, they explain the simple things people can help do to help combat climate change every day.

code for climate change


Their efforts have earned a new tablet computer, a science lab, and a premium Vidcode account for their classroom. Congratulations, Sudhiksha, Eilene, and Alyssa! 

Congratulations are also in order for our runners-up, whose videos you can view in the Contest Gallery, for their outstanding work in the categories of Research, Concept, Creativity, and Composition. Each category winner won PRO Vidcode accounts, .

The Award is intended to empower students to talk about climate change through art and technology, learning both about the critical environmental issues facing our planet, and about the methods of communication and innovation that will one day help solve them. To participate in this contest, students chose a topic related to climate change, researched that topic and then recorded a short video sharing their research, bringing art, education, and technology together to help change the world. 


If you missed the Girls Code 4 Climate competition, fear not! We will be hosting a GirlsCode4Energy@EDU contest in the spring. Sign up below for updates, and we'll see you soon!

Project Tutorial: Galentine's Day Video

It's February, and you know what that means: Galentine's Day is coming up! As Leslie Knope describes it February 13th, or Galentine's Day, is when "my lady friends and I leave our husbands and boyfriends at home, and just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies."

I used Vidcode to make a Galentine's Day video. You can follow along with the steps below to make your own Galentine's Day video with code!


Vidcode Takes CES 2016 on the Diversity Spotlight Stage!

The first week of January tech took over Las Vegas as the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show came into town. The Vidcode team came to Vegas with the rest of the techies, as the Diversity Spotlight presentation at the Intel booth! 

Vidcode co-founders Allie and Melissa, experiencing a virtual reality roller coaster at CES 2016!

Vidcode co-founders Allie and Melissa, experiencing a virtual reality roller coaster at CES 2016!

Laina, an eighth-grader and talented Vidcode user, ran the presentation. Laina is an artist, and loves painting, drawing and playing her cello. As a student in middle school, her favorite subjects are math and science.

She was so excited when she found Vidcode, a platform she could use to combine her artistic and technical interests. She used Vidcode to create a computer vision project, using code she wrote herself and a video she had filmed. 

A coding tool for high school girls

Laina presented her beautiful computer vision project on stage alongside Vidcode co-founders Allie and Melissa. "I'm shocked that I learned a new skill through something I love, and it was exciting to see what goes on behind my favorite apps," said Laina after showing the crowd what she had made.

Watch the entire presentation below.

Life After Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week is officially over. And what an incredible week it was!

We teamed up with Girl Scouts of Greater New York to create the tools for Girl Scout troops and classrooms around the United States (and world!) to run their own CS Tech Jam and Hour of Code events, introducing thousands of students to computer science in the process.


Between December 7th and 13th, with the help of communities around the world, some amazing things happened, including

  • Introducing over 3,500 students to Computer Science in 41 countries and 42 states.
  • Providing tools to help organize over 300 in-person Tech Jams.
  • Us receiving 686 requests for Hour of Code patches from Girl Scouts around the country.
  • In NYC alone, 651 Girl Scouts participating in Tech Jams and Hour of Code with Vidcode and GSGNY.

But it's important to remember that all these students getting introduced to computer science and technology during CS Ed Week is so much more than just a list of numbers. All across the country, classrooms participating in Tech Jams have been sending us stories about their experience, and telling us why their events are special.

One school in New York told us, "Many of the girls in this troop of 4th and 5th graders have never coded before or thought about computer science as a future career option. This first exposure will hopefully get them interested in this field - and continue their love of learning about technology!"

Another classroom in Dallas Texas shared with us that, "This event will be special for my students and I because it will be, for many of us, our first time being exposed to coding/programming. As we learn the programs of Adobe CS6 this will be a great compliment to help us take graphic designing to a whole new level." In Northern California, "The Hamlin School is working with the girls and encouraging them to use code to 'build their dreams' at both the middle and lower school." Check out the interactive coding map and read all the stories on the Tech Jam home page.


One of the most exciting events of the week occurred when over 120 Girl Scouts gathered in the Girl Scouts of Greater New York offices in Lower Manhattan to learn the basics of computer Science. Older Girl Scouts helped girls as young as 5 code video greeting cards and program robots to do simple tasks, like picking up water bottles.


Girls of all ages learned and celebrated computer science through creativity and problem solving. There were two rooms, one full of computers for Hour of Code activities, and another for Unplugged Activities. These included girls 'programming' their friends to draw certain images, or do dance moves in a particular order.


After spending the day at the CS Tech Jam, Girl Scout Anyia Smith said "When I think of girls, I think of almost anything." Watch the NY1 News video to see the CS Tech Jam in action.

Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 7.33.17 PM.png

In the spirit of creative coding, all the Hour of Code and Tech Jam participants had a place to share their finished projects and code with each other.

That place is the Hall of Fame, where everyone who chose to make their projects public could publish their final video greeting cards for every other Tech Jam coder to see! All the projects are still live to check out (and to sneak a peek at the code that made them happen). 


So, Life After CS Ed Week

Wondering what to do next? Learning to code doesn't have to end when CS Ed Week does! We offer many free projects online, as well as 40+ hours of curriculum and lesson plans, all centered around creating video art with code.

Keep exploring! The CS Ed Week website has an entire section dedicated to learning beyond Hour of Code, with resources that include learning to code by building robots, creating websites, or drawing animals.

Happy coding!

Computer Science Education Week with Girl Scouts of Greater New York and Vidcode

Computer Science Education Week takes place this December 7th to the 13th. It's a week to build and learn with code - anyone can do it. Only 5% of schools nation-wide offer students the opportunity to take a rigorous CS course. CS Education Week is meant to provide a time for schools, teachers, and communities to set aside a small amount of time devoted to exposing students to a greater realm of CS opportunities.

For this year's Computer Science Education Week we've built a special Tech Jam and Hour of Code in partnership with the Girl Scouts of Greater New York

Our partnership is centered around a shared commitment to give teen girls leadership and STEM opportunities.



Take part in Computer Science Education Week by giving your students access to Hour of Code, or go beyond Hour of Code by running a Tech Jam with your community, Girl Scout troop, or classroom. There's no previous experience required, you can run an Hour of Code activity, or an entire Tech Jam, even if you've never coded before!

A Tech Jam is a model event for a community or school to celebrate computer science. The Tech Jam that Vidcode and Girl Scouts of Greater New York have created includes an Hour of Code, discussion questions, off the computer activities, and badges and certificates to win and share! It's free, and doesn't require signup OR prior experience.

By the end of the Tech Jam participants will have an understanding of the fundamentals of programming with JavaScript, and they'll have created a Bestie Video Greeting Card (like the one below) to share with their family and friends.


How to run a Tech Jam

Find information on running a successful Tech Jam in the Volunteer Guide, or print out the Participation Guide Booklet for you and the other volunteers.

You can mix and match Tech Jam steps to fit your needs, staff and schedule. For example, if you don’t have a volunteer or teacher to lead the event, the “Bestie Video Greeting Card” Hour of Code is a self-guided activity for students.

Other activities include Unplugged Activities to teach Computer Science Fundamentals without computers or even internet connection, volunteer led discussions before and after the Hour of Code, and a 'Hall of Fame' where participants can view their videos and code, and the projects of other participants! See a more detailed activity list and schedule.

To get started now, register your troop or class to get your event added to our events map. We'll also send you tips and resources as Computer Science Education Week gets closer!


How can you help 

You can help by spreading the word and getting your community involved! Tell teachers and Girl Scout Troop Leaders who might be interested in Hour of Code, or in running an entire Tech Jam!

Visit our Spread the Word page for resources to share your event. There are descriptions of the event, social media messages, graphics and banners for you to use to share to get your local community excited about Tech Jam, Hour of Code and Computer Science Education Week!



Get Ready for Computer Science Education Week

Computer Science Education Week starts December 7th and ends the 13th. Get students excited by telling them about the certificates, Hall of Fame award and Hour of Code patches they could receive!

Still have questions about running your Tech Jam event or using Vidcode? We'd love to hear from you! Contact us at leandra@vidcode.io

We can't wait to see what you and your students create!

Hour of Code for teen girls