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Couch Potato Programmer

Published on Thu, 10/01/2020 - 09:02am
Couch Potato Programmer

When you see computer code (like if you accidentally hit F12 on a webpage), does it look like someone used some sort of magic to create it? Believe it or not, it’s not a complex spell or magic trick—it’s coding! In many cases, this is just normal English mixed with a little logic and some math. It’s simply a matter of understanding how the different pieces fit together.

If you are interested in learning how to program or code, there are a lot of tools out there to help. You don’t need a degree, or even a physical class, and in some cases, the only teacher is you! The first step to learning to code in nearly any language (this is what we call the different coding styles) is remembering that the computer needs to be told explicitly what to do.

If you were explaining to an alien or a toddler how to make a PB&J, you would probably detail every little step, so they didn’t misunderstand. The same goes for computer programming—you have to really think through the instructions (the code) you give, and be sure everything is broken down in a meaningful and logical way.

When you’re just getting started, it’s often easier to start with a coding language that is more “natural” like Python, HTML, or maybe Ruby. These languages—when you really take a look—are very readable and easy to follow. Lucky for us, there are a lot of free learning options available for these languages and more! Below are a few.

From the Library:

  • Lynda.com – You can find several courses and instructional videos for the three coding languages above as well as Java, JavaScript, PHP, CSS, Swift, Kotlin, C#, and more.
  • Universal Class – Offers self-paced online classes with a mix of written and video content that walk you through the basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, and more. There is also a class on logic!
  • Gale Courses – You can take instructor-led, six-week courses on programming basics as well as several coding languages, including Java, PHP, SQL, Python, C++, etc.
  • Hoonuit – This resource has self-paced courses and videos on many languages and coding tools like PHP, C++, Bootstrap, JQuery, Java, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, and more.
  • OverDrive – MCPL has many eBooks that can help. If you want a hard copy, we’ve got those too!

On the Internet:

  • freeCodeCamp – This has interactive lessons, videos, and articles to learn several coding languages and tools on your own. They even have certifications you can work toward.
  • Codecademy – Another free service offering interactive lessons, videos, and articles for several languages. There is a paid tier for even more content and challenges.
  • Edabit.com – Learn a variety of languages through micro challenges and tasks.
  • CodeSignal – A great place to test your coding skills with sets of increasingly complex coding challenges. They also have recruiters!
  • HackerRank – Just as it sounds—you test your skills and build your rank through coding challenges that get progressively harder.
  • LeetCode – The site offers a myriad of tools to help you enhance your programming skillset. There are also a few challenges.

Other Ideas:

  • LaunchCode – If you’ve got time to spare and are very serious about learning to code, consider applying for the next cohort (once a year in Kansas City) of LaunchCode. It is a free, 20-week class. If accepted, you’ll join a fast-paced learning experience teaching you two in-demand programming languages (the last cohort learned JavaScript and Java; the current cohort is learning JavaScript and C#).
  • Udemy – A site that offers tons of content on a variety of topics, including computer programming and web development. Courses are self-paced. This is a paid service—you pay for each course you wish to have access to.

Learning to code from the comfort of your own couch is pretty amazing—for something that used to be very gate-kept and was seemingly only available to the few who earned a Computer Science degree in college. If you are curious about programming/coding, I hope these resources help!

From one couch potato programmer to another—good luck and happy coding!

Paige L.
Consumer Technology Specialist

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