scratchToday we are looking at programming (aka coding), which is becoming a major educational focus for governments, schools, companies and parents alike. In this session we will consider what programming is and how we can approach learning it. Most of the session will be hands on, with you attempting to learn some coding.

Hailed as “the new super power”, coding is the ability to control a computer by writing software. This allows us to make an existing computer do new things, as is the reason why computers are so popular. This is summed up in the video below:

For a more detailed look at coding, and its attendant culture, it is worth reading Paul Ford’s Bloomberg essay What Is Code?. In short, though, changing the world use to take a lot of labour and capital, but now, thanks to code and computers, it takes much less. It is almost embarrassing looking at Google’s first storage server.

Let’s now consider some of the following items and ideas:

  • Is coding for everyone?
  • Ways to code
    • Binary/assembly (see Margaret Hamilton, who practically invented software working on Apollo)
    • High-level languages (scripting)
    • Block coding
  • Coding arenas:
    • Web
    • Mobile
    • Desktop
    • Systems

So, if you want to learn to code, how do you get started. Some of the following are good first steps:

Let’s use Scratch as an example, and work together to build a simple game. After which, you can choose one of the approaches above, and have a go at crafting some code.