Is This Really Necessary?

I was very excited by today's announcement that the Khan Academy is going to start offering programming courses—until I read the whole post. I'm not a fan of today's universities, but this is an undeserved smear:

The desire to learn and understand can be a powerful accelerant for students and it's something that is completely missing from almost all Computer Science education.

I'd really like to see the data behind that claim, but I strongly suspect there isn't any. I also have some serious reservations about this:

I think that JavaScript, and specifically learning how to code in-browser, is inherently a better way of learning. Reducing the complexity of getting started down to zero will result in more people learning. Additionally the ubiquity of JavaScript only serves to educate people in a language that will be generally useful.

Possibly. On the other hand, JavaScript has a lot of gotchas—more, I believe, than Python, Scheme, or Logo [1]. Have they done any work to find out whether JavaScript's ubiquity and being able to code without installing anything on the desktop outweighs that complexity? Again, I strongly suspect the answer is "no".

Long story short, what KA is doing is genuinely cool. I just think it would be cooler without the spin.

[1] Ironically, John Resig is famous in part for creating a library to hide some of those gotchas from run-of-the-mill developers (like me).