Creating New Tools

Are you interested in creating your own, fully custom digital learning tools?

It’s not as difficult or time consuming as you might think, and it’s easy to get started!

The languages of the web

Digital learning tools are usually built with the same technology as regular websites. It’s all very connected. Everything is a stepping stone to something else, so no matter where you start you will find it easy to grow in any direction.

You already know you’re going to be writing some code. Websites are made of three main languages:

  1. HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is 0% intimidating and technically not even a programming language. HTML says “This is a heading, this is a paragraph, and this is a button.” Dead simple. You’ll get the hang of it in an hour.
  2. CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It is also not technically a programming language. CSS says “This paragraph is in Times New Roman” and “This button turns blue when your mouse is over it.” CSS is a little more complicated than HTML. You’ll get the hang of it within a day, but then you’ll spend the whole week having fun playing around with it.
  3. JavaScript is my favorite programming language. It’s also the only actual programming language in this list. Compared to HTML and CSS, JavaScript is a bear to learn. But remember, those two were easy as cake so that doesn’t mean much. Also, I believe in you – I learned JavaScript from the internet, and you can too. And if you’re feeling panicky at all, remember this: most webpages don’t need any JavaScript!

There are two resources I like to point people toward for learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript:

  1. w3schools.com is perfect for getting started with HTML and CSS. They also have a JavaScript tutorial, and many other helpful tutorials on how to build web pages.
  2. The Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) has tutorials and documentation on HTMLCSS, and JavaScript. Professional developers use this website all the time because it has very clear information on pretty much everything related to building websites.

Publishing / hosting your new tools

Once you’ve built a website, you’ll need a way to get it online. There are many ways to do this, but most of them cost money.

GitHub Pages is my favorite free way to host static content. GitHub is the website where programmers share code for free and work on code together. It’s a neat place, and everyone is welcome.

You’ll need to register for a GitHub account first. Then you can follow this documentation for how to set up your site.

Again, there are many ways to host a website on the internet, and if this is too techy or foreign to you, just Google around for another option! If you work for a school, you can probably set up a website through them.