Learning the basics to code

Coding is an important skill more than ever today. It seems to be a skill employers are looking for more from aspiring journalists today. Learning the basics to it today reminded me of learning how to do different math problems back in high school or college. Not because the basics to coding are as complex, but because the process of learning of them is similar. Learning how to do a math problem usually starts by watching the teacher complete a similar problem on the board. Often, you will follow along and understand the steps the teacher is taking, nodding along as the teacher arrives to the answer. But, once you sit down to do a problem yourself, it is impossible to evaluate how well you grasp the material. Without the teacher’s help, you’ll come to understand what confuses you or what steps you’re forgetting.

Similarly, when I was going through the Codecademy exercises, there were times when I would run into trouble and use their “show me a hint” feature, which was usually helpful. But if I was still stuck, I eventually noticed that you could ask for the solution. While I appreciated that feature when I was stuck, I also think it offered a bit of false comfort. I could nod along and tell myself I just had a minor error and *basically* had everything right, that is not actually the case.

With coding, minor mistakes have enormous consequences. Or so it seems to a beginner. Forgetting to close a tag or include a quotation mark can make the difference between the code functioning or not. As we go along, I am trying to figure out the best way to learn through Codecademy — when to struggle with the code and when to ask for a hint, or when to struggle with the code and when to ask for the answer. Moving to the next slide was helpful in itself because, just like a math problem, sometimes you need to just look at a new problem.

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