I Want to Learn to Code, but…

"Coder Rage" by librarykitty, some rights reserved.

You may have seen people posting that they are learning to code with CodeYear, mentioned in our earlier blog post “Tips for Everyone Doing the #codeyear”.  While CodeYear and Codecademy are not the first sites to teach programming, CodeYear has seen quite a bit of marketing and notice, especially in the library world (#libcodeyear and #catcode).

Many find themselves, however, in a familiar situation when dealing with learning to code. And it starts with the person saying or thinking “I want to learn to code, but…

Do you fall under any of these categories?

1. “I don’t have enough time to learn coding.”

You can work through the time issue in two ways. The first way is block off time. You have to look at your schedule and decide, for example, “ok, I’m working on my coding lesson between 1 to 2pm.” Once you made that decision, tell the rest of the world, so that they know that you’re working on learning something during that time.

For some folks, though, blocking off an hour may be impossible due to disruptions from work or personal life. When you’re in a situation where frequent disruptions are a fact of life, documentation is your friend. Keep notes of what you learned, what questions you have, what issues you ran across, and so on – this will make sure that you do not end up having to repeat a lesson, or losing track of your thoughts during a lesson.

2.  “This is too hard.”

Here I must stress one of the key survival traits for people learning to code: ask questions! Find people who are taking the same lesson and ask. Find coders and ask. Find an online forum and ask. Post your question on Twitter, Facebook, blog, or any other broadcasting medium. Just ASK.

More often than not your question will be answered, or you will be pointed in the right direction in answering your question. The overused saying “there is no such thing as a stupid question” applies here. Coding is a community activity, and it’s to your benefit to approach it as such.

3. “I don’t like the tutorial/course.”

It’s OK to say “hey, this course isn’t what I thought it would be” or “hey, I’m not finding this course useful.” Ask yourself, “in which environment do I feel like I learn the most?” Is it a physical classroom? A virtual classroom? Do you like learning on your own? With a small group of friends? With a large group?  There are various formats and venues where you can find courses in coding, from credit-earning classes to how-to books. For example, the Catcode wiki lists a variety of coding lessons or learning opportunities at various levels of coding knowledge. Choose the one (or a few) that will fit best with you, and go for it. It might take a few tries, but you will find something that works for you.

So, if you find yourself saying “I want to learn code, but…,” there is hope for you yet.

Find what’s holding you back, tackle it, and work out a possible solution. If you don’t get it the first time, that’s OK. It’s OK to fail, as long as you learn and understand why it failed, and apply what you learned in future endeavors. For now, we are stuck in learning coding the hard way: practice, practice, practice.

Learning code the hard way, on the other hand, is not too hard once you have taken the first few steps.

2 thoughts on “I Want to Learn to Code, but…”

  1. And changed. Thanks for pointing out the extra “A” – the accidental “a” addition seems to be a common occurrence with people talking about Code Year. I’m sure you guys are seeing an increase in visits this year as well, though!

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