Learn to code in a day?

Learning to code in a day, the premise seems a little far fetched, so I was certainly intrigued by the event at Decoded in London.

With the breadth of possibilities of coding so large the focus of the day was on the specifics of creating an app that incorporated location data. Even this reduction in focus seems like a mammoth task, especially considering the course is not aimed at people with previous coding experience. In fact it is billed as aiding new comers in obtaining these skills in a day.

So with zero prior experience, is it possible to enable someone to create a location based app within a day? The quick answer is yes. Everyone on the course successfully created a location based app.

The day is broken into a few distinct learning methods, lectures, hands on and team tasks. These three different methods enable participants to gain a rounded knowledge of coding. The introduction lecture is a whirl wind tour of the beginnings of coding, I was disappointed that this didn’t feature Alan Turing, but it was a whirlwind tour after all! This lecture also included the technologies we would be utilising in order to create our app, HTML5, CSS and Javascript.

We quickly moved over to the computers and began to create our app. This takes place within an online environment created by Decoded called Playto. The real power of Playto is in its instant feedback, the environment is broken down into columns. As you type into the editor column, there is a live view column. This means you are given instant feedback on what you are creating. This is an incredibly powerful learning tool, as you can instantly see your level of progress. It is also worth noting that anyone can utilise Playto, not just participants of the course.

As the day progresses we were introduced to HTML and CSS and began to build the look of our website, with functionality reserved for after lunch. The functionality of the website, being its location information, is accomplished through Javascript and some backend tools that are beyond the scope of the single day course. This element was however covered in another lceture but it wasnt something we created ourselves.

After lunch it was time to make our apps location aware. The premise was to make that would allow you to check in within a certain radius of a location. If you were outside of the specified radius you would not be allowed to login. This simple premise has a whole host of possibilities and this was highlighted to me a few days later. A friend wanted to create an app that would have runners start at a set point and every hour each runner would have to be beyond a particular radius. As the time increased so did the radius. I realized that the app I create on coding in a day could easily be adapted to serve this function.

To complete our coding task we were broken into two teams, with each team assigned a coding research task to complete the project. This was an interesting learning experience for the day, as participants had the opportunity to communicate with team members in a way which previously may have been difficult and daunting. This is a fantastic skill that will transfer to the workplace and allow individuals to communicate with the engineers and developers.

With the team tasks complete and everyones app functional the coding in a day was complete. I realized just how empowering the day had been, in a single day everyone on the course now had the skills and confidence to create something themselves and importantly the ability to communicate with the relevant teams in their workplace. Coding skills are rapidly being highlighted as essential and perhaps so should courses like coding in a day. It has the ability to enable all team members to understand the process and language needed to communicate with development teams, which will truly become an essential skill as the workplace evolves.

The course for me personally reinvigorated my interest in coding, I returned home and spent the next few days researching location services within iOS and playing with PHP. I look forward to where I will be in a few months time and how much my own coding will have improved. It also reminded me of how much I enjoyed my previous career in the educational sector, it was facilitating others to learn that was the truly gratifying part of my job.

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