Code Year

For those of you unfamiliar with Code Year, it’s a free online course created by Codeacademy that is designed to teach you to code in a particular language in a year. This year they are covering JavaScript. I suspect that if all goes well they will branch out into other programming languages in future years. I know a lot of librarians and other tech adjacent people who have been working through the lessons. My husband who actually does computer security work for a living is planning on doing it eventually because JavaScript is a programming language he doesn’t know. He hasn’t actually started yet, so we’ll see if he ever follows through on it.

A new lesson is posted every Monday, but you don’t need to complete the lessons within the week that they’re posted. I myself actually started after 4 lessons had already been posted, but have since caught up. The weekly lessons do provide manageable chunks to get through in a week. In addition to the lessons there are projects to complete each week as well in order to put to use what you’ve learned that week as well as build on what you’ve learned in previous lessons.  The fact that the lessons and project actually force you to code is key to actually learning.

There also seems to be a good, supportive community to help you work through the lessons. There is a Q&A section for each section where people can post questions they have and other people respond to them with the answers. Every time I have gotten stuck on something I’ve been able to figure it out based on the Q&As already posted, but I have no doubt that if I posted a question of my own it would be answered in a timely fashion.

I’m never, ever going to be an actual programmer. It’s not something I aspire to, but I do a lot of things in my job now in which I’ve cobbled together just enough knowledge of certain programming languages to play around with code other people have created. It would be nice to take that to the next level with being able to actually do some coding of my own.

So far I’m having lots of fun completing the lessons. It gives me a nice sense of accomplishment to figure things out. I feel rewarded just knowing that I’ve finished the lessons and projects, but if you’re someone who likes the current trend of the gamification of everything you can also earn badges for completing things and compete against your friends who are also doing Code Year. I couldn’t care less about earning the badges, but they’re there if that is something that motivates you.

I recently read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, which I highly recommend by the way, and one of the things she talks about in the book is being intrinsically motivated as opposed to motivated by external rewards. I definitely fall in the former category. My motivation is the knowledge I gain and just knowing that I completed the task at hand, the badges mean nothing to me and earning them in no way encourages me to continue working through the program. I do however like having the little green check mark show up next to the sections I’ve completed. On the few occasions where something has gone wrong with their system and my check mark hasn’t shown up I will admit that I’ve gone back and redone the exercises in the section in order to get my check mark. I feel similarly about how Word Press has added things to try and motivate bloggers to actually blog. Whenever I complete an entry I get some little screen talking to me about how far I am toward completing some arbitrary goal they have set for me or congratulating me for achieving it. I suppose that might encourage some people to blog more, but it actually just annoys me. It’s not my goal, and it’s just one more screen for me to have to close out. It’s also why I never look at the stats for my blog. I want to write it because I want to write it and not worry about who is or isn’t reading it.

At any rate, if you’re interested in learning how to code JavaScript and aren’t in a hurry and can spend the next 11 months working through the lessons as they post I would encourage you to check out Code Year.

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