“This blog is the part of the “ExamTime New Skills” series which aims to provide info, tips and resources on how students can teach themselves new skills in their own time. For more info, check here.”
Getting Motivated to teach yourself
A few days ago we posted the first in our ‘Learning to Code’ series which explored the coder movement concept. This post will explore why you should learn to code and provide resources which will help you get started to teach yourself to code. This may seem like quite a daunting task but the benefits of learning any computer language are vast, especially in today’s world.
So, if learning to code is something you’ve always wanted to do then read on.
Why you Should Start Coding…
The need for gifted programmers is only going to grow in the future. Even today, computer programming is one of the highest paying jobs out there. So if you want to be earning that sweet, sweet dolla’, best get some programming experience under your belt.
Regardless of what career you decide to pursue, having a computer language or even a basic understanding of coding, will look great on your CV.
The best thing about learning to code is the opportunity to create something. It gives you the freedom to put your own ideas into practice, alongside the sense of achievement you get when solving a problem and hopefully a finished product that you can say you created!
And of course there is always that chance that you could create the next big innovation and become a tech billionaire!
What do I Need to Get Started?
There are a bunch of free tools and guides online (see our coding resources section below), which means all you really need to get started is a computer or a laptop.
If you wish, you could get a textbook that will take you through coding step by step, but this is optional.
Apart from that you will need:
- Patience: To cope with the inevitable frustrations when you encounter something you don’t understand
- Analytical and problem solving skills: To help you overcome these problems
- Creativity: For getting awesome ideas on what to actually make
Inspiration is also a great trait to have when starting to learn anything new (if you need to give your coding inspiration a jolt then check out some great coder role-models in our blog “Getting Inspired: Coding Role Models“)
You shouldn’t just rely on yourself though; leverage coding the community into helping you learn. Below we outline some online resources to explore but you should also join local coding clubs such as a CoderDojo.
Resources to Help you get Started:
Of course, you can’t rely on inspiration alone. Here are some great resources to help you get started.
As mentioned above, I would suggest ,if you can, to join a CoderDojo— these are groups of students who meet up regularly to share their knowledge of coding. To find your nearest CoderDojo group, check here.
You should also check sites like Coursera for online classes relating to any computer language you want to learn.
From there, you should choose to study one language at a time and fully immerse yourself in it (for more info on deciding what computer language to choose, check out our blog “Which Computer Language Should I Learn First“.
Stackoverflow is a great resource for programmers, though it might be too advanced for beginners. Generally speaking, you can always find forums that will answer any problems you’re having.
The best place to start is by finding a free online interactive or downloadable coding tutorial giving advice and tips on coding in the particular area you are researching with a simple Google Search!
Some of these focus on one specific language, others focus on many. When you decide what you want to learn have a look through them and see which one works best for you:
- Mozilla WebMaker: HTML, CSS and other intro concepts
- Try Ruby: Ruby
- Learn CSS: HTML and CSS
- Kids Ruby: Ruby ( don’t be fooled by the title!)
- Learn jQuery: jQuery
Stop Wasting Time!
The great thing about coding is that there are many great ways to interact with experienced coders who are willing to share their expertise—it is the life blood of the industry where the experienced help those who are learning. Also, computer languages are always in a constant state of flux. Languages that were extremely popular 15 or 20 years ago are now near obsolete as new and better languages overtook them. It is almost a certainty that this will continue to happen but if you learn one language it helps you to learn others. Good code is good code regardless of the language, so just learn to write good code. Easy, right?
If getting involved in this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then make sure and check back here soon. You can join the conversation on Facebook or at #ETNewSkills where we will be sharing and discussing all things coding!