To most of us, coding is completely alien. Many of us simply see it as a foreign language that should be left to the tech whizzes. But is that really the best attitude? Every single one of us uses technology in our day to day life – for communication, for banking, for gaming – and yet hardly any of us know how to code.
Recently there has been a surge of popularity from leaders, celebrities and technology innovators who are determined to teach people how to code. In the US, a dedicated team have set up Code.org, a non-profit organisation dedicated to growing computer science education.
They want computer science to have a place in the school curriculum and believe that all students should have the opportunity to learn how to code. Endorsed by well-known technology wizards such as Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, they advocate that coding is useful no matter what your ambitions in life are.
Coding is not all about being a nerd, staring in front of a computer. It’s about having an idea and implementing it.
In the UK, coding has been included in the new curriculum to be introduced in 2014. More of an emphasis has been put on computing skills – tasks such as coding and understanding algorithms will replace the basic word processing that many of us learnt at school.
Decoded is a company based in London which was co-founded by University of Nottingham alumnus Alasdair Blackwell. Their mission is to remove the stigma attached to coding and get them learning how to code in one day. Before university, Ali had been setting up his own websites, and while at UoN, he was President of the New Theatre and continued his work in coding by building the group’s website.
Decoded was also involved in the introduction of coding into the school curriculum. “We have recently launched the Decoded Education Fund that provides teachers from state schools with free access to CodeED in a Day, a course that gives teachers the skills and confidence to teach the new Computing curriculum”, Ali told IMPACT.
Learning to code is the medium we use to transform people into confident, digitally savvy people, to illuminate the previously murky and mysterious world of coding.
When people hear that Decoded can teach them coding in one day, Ali said they never understand at first. “It sounds so outrageous and ridiculous to claim that we can teach you how to code in a day! But as more people have got to know us, they see that it’s not about producing expert developers. Learning to code is the medium we use to transform people into confident, digitally savvy people, to illuminate the previously murky and mysterious world of coding. People leave our workshops genuinely empowered – they get how it works, how it all fits together”.
IMPACT asked UoN students for their thoughts on coding and its greater accessibility. Arjun Sharma, a third year studying Computer Science, says, “I think it’s a very good idea introducing coding at school level as it teaches logical thinking and can be a creative outlet for children. I personally would have loved the opportunity to write code during primary and secondary school”.
Adil Manji, also studying Computer Science, agrees: “Coding is not all about being a nerd, staring in front of a computer. It’s about having an idea and implementing it. If people are taught coding form a young age, it will make coding second nature. In every office building, there are computers, and most jobs involve sitting at a desk with a computer. The rises of technology companies in industry suggest it’s almost imperative to stand out with an arsenal of programming languages under your belt”.
But is coding helpful even if you don’t intent to work in the technology sector? Ali thinks so.
“It’s important that you have a basic understanding of how it all fits together, but you don’t need to be an expert. The key thing is that people who want to learn can, and that everyone has the opportunity to do so. Who knows, lots of people in the world who are unemployed now might have made excellent programmers if they’d only had the opportunity!”
Image: Marissa Anderson via Flickr