Barclay’s Code Playground is a fun way to get young people interested in coding. You can click on animated graphics and input different variables into their software programme, in effect changing the way they behave and move. Wirebox supports young people learning to code and the skill becoming more widely achievable. But why is learning to code important, and how can it be opened up to more people?
What is coding?
Coding is the ability to design, write, test, implement and maintain a computer programme’s source code. This code is written in a programming language, with its own syntax and meanings. In order to be able to code, you need to understand this language, and understand the way it works.
It can be tricky to learn, as it is tricky to learn any language, and programming languages are exacting as a simple mistake can have significant effects on performance or functionality. But some languages are easier to learn than others; often recommended first languages include C, Java, Ruby and Python. These languages are syntactically very similar, though they are used for different kinds of application.
Importance of training young people in coding
Coding is the most important skill for future jobs. It’s a skill that isn’t just relevant for the next generation of computer programmers; As more businesses and industries incorporate digital technology into their operations, a basic understanding of computer programming as a minimum requirement is becoming more important. This is particularly true for anyone who works in these industries.
Information Technology: IT, the application of computers to the use of data storage and manipulation for business processes, is central to more and more businesses, not just office work but increasingly financial, legal, medical and manufacturing sectors.
Data analysis: Businesses use data analysis to forecast income and expenditure, manage production and distribution as well as, with the rise of social media and big data, analyse search and buying behaviour, discovering information about customers and significant trends.
Design: Designers regularly use digital tools to create websites as well as products to be sold and marketed online, in jobs such as graphic design, web design and UX/UI design.
Science and engineering: Creating and testing products, as well as testing hypotheses and analysing the results, is made more practical by the use of digital technology, which engineers and scientists regularly work with.
Coding doesn’t just help with programming roles either. Learning to use a programming language strengthens analytical skills, language proficiency, attention to details and discipline. These are applicable to just about any career. As digital technology becomes an ever larger part of our lives, demand for people adept at coding will only increase.
Tools to learn coding
A visual programming site for kids where you can imagine, create and share stories, games and animations that you programme yourself. The site was developed by MIT, who also use the site to research how people learn to code, to determine how to improve the teaching of coding. With tips and an online tutorial, it’s a fun and painless introduction for first time programmers that’s used by millions of people around the world.
Another tool courtesy of MIT, App Inventor makes use of drag and drop coding blocks to build functional apps. It includes all the methods and functions someone would need to use an android app. While there are no step-by-step instructions the site offers support, and is targeted at older students of medium level proficiency.
A great resource for learning all kinds of disciplines, from mathematics to history. Suited for secondary school students and above, Khan Academy is an interactive educational resource. What sets it apart from other online tools is the mixture of video lectures, reading assignments and hands-on coding challenges. It’s one of the best tutorial collections online.
All of these resources are free to use and if you’re new to coding hopefully you’ll find one that suits you. You don’t have to be just starting out in your career to benefit from training in coding. If you found this introduction to coding tools helpful, let us know how your coding training is going on Facebook, Twitter or via email.