How About Learning A Little Coding In 2012?

It’s a long time since I’ve done any coding. I think the last time was when I was a Research Fellow at IBM and I used some in-house software tools for data visualisation. After that I moved from technology to business aspects and unfortunately left these sorts of skills behind.

However knowing a bit of (modern) coding could be really interesting, partly for the mental discipline of learning something new and partly because it could open up new possibilities and connections!

So I was fascinated when I heard about Code Year, a campaign to encourage more people to programme. It’s an online computer coding course that offers free web-based tutorials in the programming language JavaScript.

Why Javascript?

It’s a language that is perfect for beginners, and it is really flexible and useful. It can be used to make games and add animation to websites.

Even the Major of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has signed up to take part!

At the time of writing, 398,839 people have registered and now there’s one more – me! I’ll let you know how I get on with quarterly progress reports (hopefully there will be more than one of them…).

Maybe you’d like to tell your friends (and their children) about the free course – it could be a fun entry point to a growing UK industry:

And it looks like they’ve found what could be a great slogan for their campaign. “Coding is the new Latin,” says Alex Hope, co-author of that Next Gen report which kicked things off. “We need to give kids a proper understanding of computers if they’re to compete for all kinds of jobs.”

Mr Hope is a fervent believer that a combination of hi-tech and the creative industries is Britain’s best hope for growth – and he should know.

His visual effects company Double Negative is a great success story, with credits on films ranging from Harry Potter to Batman to Inception, for which it won an Oscar. From a standing start in 1998, its workforce now numbers nearly a thousand.

Alex Hope says his company needs a rich mix of talents: “We’re looking for polymaths – people with computer science, maths, physics or fine arts can all thrive.” He describes how working out how to make the CGI River Thames look real in a Harry Potter film involves complex maths and physics.

Are UK children falling behind their international contemporaries?

But he’s finding it a struggle to recruit people with the hard science background. ‘We’re just not producing enough graduates with computer science or maths skills.”

If you’re interested in other opportunities for learning coding, you may also want to take a look at w3schools (amongst others).


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