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Learning to Code, Take Two!

close up code coding computer

Photo by Lorenzo Cafaro on Pexels.com

Months ago, I wrote a post about how I wanted to participate in game jams.  Ultimately, that didn’t go much of anywhere because I didn’t have a concrete and actionable plan to follow.  I knew I wanted to code, but I couldn’t actually figure out how to get started.  After getting lost in an endless number of forum posts and articles that all told me to learn different languages using different tutorial programs, I began to worry that coding may not be for me.  Thankfully, I did persevere and continue to read advice until I had come up with a path that I thought I could realistically follow.  While it did take me some time, I am beginning to finally put the pieces together and am determined to actually learn how to code!

Why do I want to learn to code?  There are a variety of reasons, but put simply, it is a valuable skill to learn.  Almost all businesses and industries need a tech person to run their website or manage their database nowadays, and I can only imagine that this will become even more prevalent in the coming years.  Apart from that, I have always been a creative person who loves to try new things.  Browsing websites and playing video games is a lot of fun, but it would be amazing to be able to create those sites and games myself!

In the coming months, I will be writing a series of posts outlining the success of different teaching tools I am using and the projects I am completing.  Since I know I’m not alone in wanting to know how to code, I hope that being honest about my triumphs and roadblocks along the way will help others take the plunge!  I’m definitely not going into this endeavor believing that I will become a master coder overnight.  This is going to be one of the most challenging tasks that I have ever put upon myself and I expect to struggle tremendously at times.  Since I suspect that I share a lot of my biggest fears about coding with others, I am going to list off a few concerns I have, as well as how I am overcoming them:

  1.  Am I smart enough to code?  From day one, this is a concern that has plagued me.  The media constantly portrays people who work with computers as these absolute geniuses that are brighter than everyone else in the room.  The fear that I might not be able to keep up with the curriculum is definitely there, but I also realize that it’s irrational.  I’m self-teaching myself and can go at my own pace.  There are countless resources out there that will explain any topic I need to know more about, so if I hit a roadblock reading one description, I can always go find a different tutorial and keep working at it until I understand a concept.
  2. Am I self-motivated enough to learn by myself?  This undertaking will involve months or years of daily study in order to become fully proficient at a given coding language.  The question is, can I do this alone?  In order to overcome this fear, I remind myself that I have kept up with my own website for over a year now, and it isn’t like anyone is forcing me to do this.  No matter how worried I may be, at the end of the day, I have always been a very self-motivated person, and there is no reason to believe that coding will be any different.
  3. How do I find the right resources?  There are so many websites out there that promise a master coding education.  Some are free and some cost money, claiming that the monetary investment will give a better overall education.  They all teach different languages.  No two people on the internet will ever agree about which curriculum works best for learning how to code.  At first, this felt overwhelming, but I realize now that this is actually a great thing!  The nearly limitless resources available means that, similar to what I said about not being smart enough to code, I can use a combination of different curriculums to tackle difficult topics, or switch tutorials if I don’t feel like I’m getting along well with the one I initially chose.  I could spend years picking out the perfect education for myself, or I could just dive into one and adjust as necessary.
  4. How do I take my foundational knowledge and apply it to actually making something?  This is the biggest concern that I have had over the years, primarily because I actually have some coding background.  I took several coding courses in college that taught me the fundamentals of Ruby, Java, and Javascript.  The problem is that I would feel like I learned everything in my class just fine, but as soon as it was over, I realized that I had no idea how to translate loops and if statements into an actual project more complicated than tic-tac-toe.  How do I get from learning the fundamentals to building my own website?  I’m not sure I have an answer here yet apart from just continuing to chug along and practice like crazy.  This will definitely be a topic I continue to address throughout my future blogging updates.

As you all can see, I am terrified about a great many things going into this endeavor, but I also realize that these fears shouldn’t stop me from diving in and giving coding my best shot!  I have no idea how learning to code is going to affect my life, but I am eager to learn what opportunities might await me.  Even though I may be scared, I’m also very excited to see what the coming months bring me and can’t wait to write updates in the future about what I’m doing.

Have you ever tried to learn to code?  How did it go?  Let me know in the comments below!

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11 replies »

  1. I’ve been wanting to learn to code for years. Was even close to signing up for a uni course, but didn’t. I’ve been messing around on codeacademy.com. I hope it goes well for you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been messing around on Codecademy, too, but the stuff I’m most interested in is locked behind a paywall, so I use the free sources of information more heavily. For me, I know a lot of the building blocks (if statements, loops, even some recursion), but I don’t know how to apply it and need a lot of project inspiration that will take my theory and turn it into practical skills, which Codecademy isn’t going to be super helpful with unless I pay. It’s still good for brushing up on stuff I’ve forgotten since my last computer science course, though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A while ago I wanted to know the basics of how learning worked and came across the book “A Mind for Numbers”. Possibly one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. The author recognized that it would greatly broaden her work capacity to learn STEM. She went from being a math-phobe to earning “a doctorate in systems engineering, with a broad background that included thermodynamics, electromagnetics, acoustics, and physical chemistry”. Now she’s a professor of engineering.

    You mentioned the fear of not keeping up with the curriculum. Well, there’s a section in one of the chapters called “Don’t Worry about Keeping Up with the Intellectual Joneses”. Should help a bit.

    Looking forward to you future tech posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Concerning your first worry, whether you’re smart enough to code: absolutely! Devs aren’t geniuses. There are a few kicking about, but the vast majority of us are pretty average. If you can keep up the self-motivation, you’ll do just fine.

    Looking forward to reading about your progress! Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The first worry of being smart enough is something you just need to put to the side. Of course you are smart enough. Anyone in coding will have to reach out for help or keep an eye on “cheat sheets” with certain aspects of coding. It isn’t something that they will remember everything for.

    Good luck with learning! I hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I feel like a lot of people get scared off because they feel like they aren’t smart enough, so I just wanted to let people know that they aren’t alone in feeling that way. Hopefully, all goes well!

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      • Absolutely, everyone is capable it will sometimes have a learning curve that you wouldn’t expect or realise but I think everyone has the ability if they find the best way for them to learn to code.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s so great to find someone that’s going through the same stuff I am! I’m taking a year off to learn to code, and at first it was really over whelming. I spent the first month wondering if quitting my dead end job was the worst mistake I had ever made. But little by little I started getting the hang of things, and now I’m chugging along pretty well. The best things I’ve learned so far is that you can become a great coder for free. There are tons of free websites to learn all sorts of coding, and if you check at your local library they often have subscriptions to the paid training websites that library card holders get to use for free. The sites that are the most helpful for me are Lynda.com (free through my library) and freecodecamp.com. Oh, and I’m sure you already know this, but you didn’t mention it in your post so just in case you don’t, you need HTML and CSS to make a website with javascript. HTML is the framework that everything goes on, CSS is all the pretty decorations, and Javascript makes the website do stuff. I hope I’m not being annoying and telling you stuff you already know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m using The Odin Project primarily to learn how to code, which is teaching me HTML and CSS alongside Javascript, as well as Ruby and Ruby on Rails. It’s a lot of information, but I’m enjoying it. I think Odin Project is a similar alternative to Free Code Camp.

      Like

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