Today Codecademy is launching a new partnership with nine companies to help budding developers learn APIs and create actual functioning sites, projects, and even products.

In other words, it’ll help them do more than play with programming.

Codecademy‘s partners, which include YouTube, NPR, Stripe, and, are launching what cofounder Zach Sims calls “simple, digestible lessons on how to get up and running” with APIs. APIs, or application programming interfaces, are simply ways of talking to applications other people have built.

What does that look like?

The new lessons on Codecademy will help users build web apps that, for instance mash up news from NPR with YouTube videos on the same topic. Or, build a product highlighting hot social content being shared with, and charging for it with Stripe. New developers could even start interacting with mobile phones and sending text messages via Twilio’s API, Sims said.

“This is part of our continual belief that the best way to learn is by creating,” Sims said in an email.

And that’s precisely the core goal: helping new programmers get started with building online apps, even if they have almost no programming knowledge. Other launch partners who will also being including lessons on their APIs include Parse, Soundcloud, Sunlight Labs, Placekitten, and Sendgrid.

This is a big part of what the Codecademy turn-users-into-makers movement is focusing on in 2013: helping people create stuff. I talked to Sims about his plans last week.

“The future of programming is making a tool for people to demonstrate their creativity,” he told me. “In 2013 we want to extend Codecademy’s reach and help people move beyond beginners.”

2012 was an “explosive” year, he said. Codecademy grew from two people — Sims himself and co-founder Ryan Bubinski — to 13. From just a few users to millions, including hundreds of thousands who signed up for Code Year, a challenge to build something with technology. And the team added Ruby, Python, HTML, CSS, and jQuery to the initial launch with Javascript.

What’s next?

“There are definitely more languages coming in 2013,” Sims said. “We’re focusing on what will be popular in the future … people are asking for PHP and C++, Java, Objective-C, all of which are on our radar. But we’re still sort of prioritizing.”

The goal for 2013, beyond new API training, and beyond new languages, is continuing to bring programming knowledge to more people. That includes schools and teachers, who Codecademy is helping to build computer science courses and after-school programming clubs, and governments. Sims said the group was working with governments “pretty much everywhere” in both the developing and developed world to help integrate programming courses into core curriculum. Already, a “couple thousand schools” have created after-school programs to teach programming using Codecademy tools.

Another focus?

Continuing to empower the creator community to build and share lessons. “There are tens of thousands of potential teachers … people who write a tutorial and put it on their blog and no-one reads it,” Sims told me. Sims wants to build the community and tools that make those creators want to contribute to Codecademy’s store of lessons, which are then improved for everyone else.

photo credit: mbeo via photopin cc

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