Learning to…code with Freecodecamp

As mentioned before, I am starting a blog post series “Learning to…” in which I reflect on my experiences with learning resources for digital skills such as coding and programming. I started with Freecodecamp.org. Here are my first (early and enthusiastic) impressions and I may update this post from time to time still.

Freecodecamp is a website guiding and supporting users in learning digital skills such as coding. Apart from online courses, there are also a forum, the possibility to chat with other community members and news updates. It was founded and financed by former teacher Quincy Larson. Kudos Quincy!

I started absolutely from scratch, yes, Basic HTML and HTML 5 here I come. And here is the first good thing: as you learn online and at your own pace, there is not the slightest sense of shame creeping up on you as you do not have to tell anyone that “Yes, this is really where they will have to start and how long it is taking you”. Just a side note: during my interviews, this is also an issue that comes up regularly with regards to communal learning and differences between beginners and more proliferate programmers.

To start with, as a cat person, building a cat app also sounded like a good thing – and is your project for the first courses. Not sure how dog people will feel about this, but for me it certainly worked. The interface is structured into three columns: on the left you read the instructions (with some interactive elements), in the middle you write your code, on the right you see the result. Even with a small laptop the interface worked well for me. And gamification galore!, each completed step is lavishly praised – which at times might feel a bit over the top, especially if it took you several turns, but has a nice ironic touch.

The most important bit and the most difficult to explain: I enjoyed it. I completed short bits at a time and felt like I was increasingly understanding the logic behind the elements and classes. It does work better though when you force/encourage yourself to work regularly on it. Especially after the Christmas break, I felt like I had forgotten most about it again and – although I know that some things you simply need to/can look up – thought it would be good to have memorized some of the code too. For me, it thus works best when I can complete short bits of the courses every day. Let’s see how it goes – I will write an update over the coming weeks.

Also, I hope to be able to join one of the Codebar.io events in Brighton soon. They are popular and often fully booked, but once I managed to join I will also write about this initiative.

Image credits: The image at the start of this post is a screenshot taken of one of the Freecodecamp tutorials. Thanks for letting me share it here.

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