Jun 25, 2014

Control Your Career - Learn To Code

I was an early adopter of the coding movement (translation: I was one of the young geeks who spent hours on a Commodore 64 typing lines of "if-then" code that would spit out my name).  Unfortunately, I didn't stick with it, and I have often regretted not staying current with the basics of coding over the years.  More frustrating than anything is the fact that I can't make seemingly easy changes and customization to any of my own websites without pulling my hair out.

I may be in the minority among people my age, but I believe strongly that we should understand how to code, or at least how it works.  I also feel that schools should be leading this charge and instilling a basic understanding of coding at the elementary school level, much like cursive and reading.

As technology continues to become completely entwined in our lives, understanding how the technologies we use work will provide a distinct competitive advantage over those who know little or nothing about it.  And, for what it's worth, using electronics is not akin to understanding how they work.

For this reason, I've been taking a few lessons online, thanks to some good friends at CoWork MYR who have turned me on to a few sites for beginners like me.  For those inclined to take the self-taught approach and learn a little coding, below are a few resources I have utilized and found useful.

- Code Academy: Free website with a great set of resources.
- Udemy: With numerous online classes that cover many topics, there are a few good coding courses.  Most are pay as you go, but keep your eye open for frequent discount coupon codes.
- Tree House: Very easy to follow video tutorials with work spaces you can use to follow along.

By now means are these the only resources.  A simple Google search will result in numerous resources, though I have include a few below from a great resource I found.

- GirlDevelopIt.com: An international nonprofit that provides mentorship and instruction, committed to making sure women of all ages, races, education levels, income, and upbringing can build confidence in their skill set to develop web and mobile applications.

- Udacity.com: Stanford University’s Udacity is one of many sites that make college courses—including Introduction to Computer Science—available online for free.

- ComputerClubhouse.org: Helping more than 25,000 young people from low-income communities learn to express themselves creatively with new technologies every year.

- CoderDojo.com: Through CoderDojo’s volunteer-led sessions, young people can learn to code, go on tours of tech companies and hear guest speakers.

- CodeSchool.com: Offers online courses in a wide range of programming languages, design and web tools.

- GirlsWhoCode.com: Geared specifically toward 13 to 17 year old girls, pairs instruction and mentorship to “educate, inspire and equip” students to pursue their engineering and tech dreams.

- BlackGirlsCode.com: Aims to help address the “dearth of African-American women in science, technology, engineering and math professions” through workshops for young girls of color.

- GeneralAssemb.ly: Offers a variety of coding courses at their campuses across the globe. Additionally, their free online platform, Dash, teaches HTML, CSS and Javascript through fun projects on a simple interface that is accessible from your web browser.


And, from TED: Mitch Resnick of MIT Media Lab: Coding isn’t just for computer whizzes — it’s for everyone. In a fun, demo-filled talk Resnick outlines the benefits of teaching kids to code, so they can do more than just “read” new technologies — but also create them. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.)