Computers have always intimidated me.
Not in the way that I can’t use them or have extreme difficulty navigating their interfaces, more so in the way that I don’t know what is happening behind the surface of them.
I wouldn’t say that I am afraid of computers – I just don’t trust them.
In films only the “techie nerds” are able to hack a computer system, reprogram confidential software and override a security breach to save the day. The rest of the team just trusts that the “techie” can clear the way before they send the main heroes in. This type of media in addition to societal influence, I have always assumed that I was not gifted with the “techie” part of my brain that would let me be the undercover hero. Because somewhere along the long I associated my intelligence and competence with technology and decided that I didn’t make the geek squad.
That is why I loved working with Codecademy.
Without any of this sounding too much like an infomercial I will explain my experience.
It was simple, easy to use software that enabled as opposed to disabled. You can easily go back and look over different skills if you get stuck on a task or unit. The program is forcing you to learn and engage with technology but I never felt like I was stupid – or lacked the intelligence to learn. After almost completing a unit on web design, I can honestly say that I have a much better grasp of the going on behind the screen and am even on my way to building my own! Sure, of course there are people that will pick it up faster and easier that others, but that’s the same for every skill that you learn. The speed in which you learn something does not determine your competence of the subject. In the case of coding, you are learning a new language and the syntax that comes with it from scratch. How can you expect yourself to be an expert when it has taken you years to speak the English language? Give yourself a break and trust your intelligence, future coders.
Once you have all those tools, it is up to the creativity of the individual to build new and innovative materials.
But this software is meant to give the skills to anyone (provided you have access to a computer and the internet) It doesn’t matter gender, age, demographic or previous experiences. Anyone can proceed in an environment they are comfortable learning in. So yes the interface is good, and skill building is good and the pacing, layout and language is all good, but this is more than just earning badges (although look at all my badges)…
This is about empowering everybody to engage with technology. In the words of Justin Trudeau – this is 2015. And in 2015 we are all techies. We just need to believe that our intelligence is not limited by stereotypes but the mindset we project. Coding is not reserved for the smartest people in the room. Coding is for anyone who has the ambition and time to learn.