Guest Blogger, Malcolm Thomson:  “Malcolm has been a computer programmer for 20 years and has vast experience in providing training, consultancy and building custom solutions on just about all platforms and devices.”

As well as learning a new digital skill and boosting your confidence, learning the basics of coding through a digital skills course can help you out in so many other areas too, such as; understanding new features of a phone, computer or website, understanding how sites work or being able to sort through news articles and social media posts more effectively. Now, I might throw in a couple of gentle coding terms here, but stick with me!

This webpage that you are currently looking at is running on code, the car you drive uses code, as does the phone in your pocket. All of the above use the basics of coding, it doesn’t matter the ‘use case’, it doesn’t matter who wrote it, and it doesn’t matter whether the user created the code for the “good” or “bad” guys, the code that is written does precisely as it was coded to do. Therefore, with an understanding of how code is made, you can obtain a better and more accurate understanding of how things work.

News articles and blogs are laden with words to make the story more catching, such as “hacktivist”, “hacker”, “cyber-terrorist”, “software engineer”, “self-driving car”, and or numerous other jargon based statements.

All of the statements above relate to coding to some degree or other, and all of their code is made in pretty much the same way. It involves the use of “IF/ELSE” statements, it involves “FUNCTIONS/OBJECTS”, and it involves many minutes, hours and days of head scratching trying to work out why it doesn’t necessarily work, particularly when you first start coding something.

basics of coding

You will probably have seen a humorous meme or faked webpage making the rounds on one of your many social networks, you may even have fallen for a friend’s practical joke; when you have an understanding of how code works, you can see through a lot of the fake news and practical joke web pages. Not necessarily meaning they are not funny, but merely that you are able to realise that they are jokes and nothing more.

I have just touched on a number of things that you might consider in your decision to learn to code, and while I am not saying that learning to code will increase your understanding of them all, learning to code will make sure you understand what an “IF/ELSE” is, or what a “FUNCTION” is. Once you realise that all code is made from the same building blocks, then many of the references concerning self-driving cars, virus’ or the newest feature on the latest phone, will be a little easier to understand.

If you have made it to the end of this blog post and you are still feeling a little confused, I would invite you to learn some basic coding first hand. It could be a great idea to try a digital skills course on coding.

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