As Easy As ABC?
27 May 2014
In this increasingly digital world, is a basic knowledge of coding becoming an important life skill?
In recent years, efforts have been made by educators, the government and technological companies alike to encourage kids to pick up programming early. With the introduction of schemes like ‘Coder Dojo’ and ‘Code Club’, the current generation of programmers are actively involved in raising awareness and encouraging young people to take an interest in coding. Many of our own Equator developers have volunteered as STEM ambassadors, passing on their programming expertise and insights to digital whiz kids of the future.
But is this enough? Or should adults be trying to brush up on tech knowledge too?
‘Hour of Code’ is one such initiative. Inexperienced coders are being encouraged to write some code to build their confidence. Like any skill, programming cannot be mastered in an hour, but the hope is that new coders catch the bug (pun intended) and find a passion for coding.
As a developer, I disagree with the claims on the websites that “anyone can learn” and “it’s really simple.” That’s not exactly true, but it’s definitely not impossible. I’ve been coding for eight years and still manage to learn something new every day. However, I would encourage everyone and anyone to dedicate a couple of hours to programming.
You may hate every second of it; you may want to throw your computer out of the closest window as hard as you possibly can. But you may find a passion for coding you would never have expected.
Even learning just enough to help you the next time a developer is asking technical questions about features on your site is hugely beneficial. You can ensure you give appropriate requirements that suit your business needs. For example, even having a basic grasp of what APIs and third party integrations are available to your business will allow you to give enough information to developers to improve your site.
Some developers are less convinced that anyone can learn the skill of coding and they’re not exactly wrong. Justifiably, there are fears that inexperienced coders implementing advanced parts of a site could cause security problems. Would you want to give your credit card details to a site that was written by an amateur programmer? I think not.
I also agree that not everyone will become an expert and decide to switch careers to web development, but a greater understanding of web technologies is hugely advantageous in a world where computing is becoming ubiquitous. As consumers change how they use technology, brands must keep up to date and innovate to ensure they can effectively engage with customers.
A good understanding of Maths and English are essential life skills that help us no matter what career we choose. Technology is now also a basic part of most people’s working lives. Having an understanding of how the technology is working will be an advantage, and in some professions a necessity.
In my opinion schemes like ‘Hour for Code’ are important. They give an opportunity to learn to those who may never have had the chance. So even if it just makes your life a little easier next time you are talking to one of us geeks about your website, give coding a go!
By Carole Grieve, web application developer @ Equator