Old Man Learning to Code
Where to Start Learning Code
YouTube is the obvious answer and especially so for me because I learn in a visual way. I like to see examples, diagrams and lots of things with pretty colours. I want to be educated with visual representations to show what the words mean. More than half the time when you’re listening to a code expert, a programmer talking about code. it sounds like they could be speaking Russian or Japanese or a mixture of the two. It doesn’t take long for my eyes to glaze over. They always seem to assume a level of understanding of the programming terms without ever explaining the basics. It’s because of what I’ve encountered before when trying to learn programming I’ve always got to a plateau point which could also be described as a big brick wall. I need to get past that some how.
So on YouTube you have to pick and choose your teachers carefully. If you find someone on there who is explaining things well with diagrams and good metaphors then you should make a note and see what other content they have. I found a few that I like and sometimes it’s good to have more than one explanation of the same concept. What one of them might miss or not explain quite so well, another will describe perfectly.
Mosh the Iranian Guy
While these courses are good, you do need extra information coming in. I thought there were not quite enough exercises and small tests of the subject matter. For this I went to other places where they had bite -sized tests and one of these I used was called Codecademy and W3 schools. I liked the way they have the ‘try this yourself’ sections in their lessons. You get to a page where the code is already on the page and you can play with it, adjust it and see what happens. They also have an iOS application which does bite-size lessons with exercises to test your learning.
I still like the content from Mosh because his explanations are so good. I need to work on my own learning abilities. I try to be as interactive as possible. So as I’m getting the information I’m typing the code in VS Code. Naturally I made a few mistakes as I do this and I have to solve the problem. Matching up what I’ve put into the code editor with the lesson information helps me to learn. Sometimes I think it’s a good idea to watch the lesson without doing anything with it. Then watching it again and being interactive.
Programming with Pax
Pax is a young chap and I like the way he explains the code. He doesn’t have as much content as Mosh, but it takes time to build up this sort of stuff. He also has information on CodePen.IO which is another place you can go to try things out if you haven’t got yourself sorted out with a code editor you like. Pax, Just like Mosh recommends the use of the VS Code editor. I’ve tried this and I like it and there are all sorts of extensions you can use to make it work just the way you want it to. I’d recommend following this YouTube guy as one of the starting points if you want to learn how to code.
This application from Apple has been around for a while. Just recently had an update which allows you to create applications to the point of being able to submit them to the Apple App Store. It’s also been updated to use the latest Swift code and it has excellent teaching materials. When you first look at this you might think it is more for children to learn coding. There are the Learn to Code Playgrounds which have some very simple coding problems to solve. You get a bouncing cartoon figure in a small environment and you have to make it move around and complete certain tasks. These coding problems start simple and gradually get more complex. Because there is such a high level of interactivity and an extremely visual learning experience I have found them to be excellent to learn the basics of thinking like a programmer. I really got the concepts of for and while loops by solving the game like programming challenges. It was fun too and it always helps to have some fun while learning new things.
My grandson came to visit and is seven years old and I showed him the Swift Playgrounds and he took to it like a fish to water. He easily got the idea of functions to get a set of steps into one command that could be called later more than once. No problem for him with for loops either. Hopefully he will be able to get back into it back at home. I’d consider buying him an iPad so he could do more. Although, with kids it is too easy for them to get distracted and use it just for playing games. That would be a waste.