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Coding

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For an in-depth look at what coding is, how it is written using coding languages, and resources from sessions learning different kinds of coding, see our Coding Practical Guide.

You'll find the resources for our 'Introduction to coding' session on there as well as from other coding related sessions. All the resources can be used in live sessions or worked through at your own pace.

What is coding?

Computer coding, also known as computer programming, is giving a computer instructions to tell it what to do.

These instructions are written in a coding 'language', which has grammar and syntax just as other kinds of languages do.

Your code, written in a particular language, is then converted into binary (ones and zeroes), which is the only way a computer can understand the instructions.

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Why learn to code?

lines of computer code

Our lives are becoming more and more digitally focused. There are applications now that can do many amazing things, but there are still plenty of times you'll need a solution for which there isn't an application. Being able to code increases what you can do with technology and helps you understand what might be possible.

Computers and programming are good for:

  • Problem solving - getting from A to B, moving your idea forward
  • Efficiency and automation - getting the computer to do the boring things for you
  • Creativity and exploration - creating new things or exploring your ideas in a more unique direction

Coding resources

There's a wealth of free resources online for learning different coding languages, including tutorials, written guides, and courses. We have also run workshops on coding in good tools for beginners to start learning coding with.

For our teaching sessions, you'll find all of the resources on our Coding Practical Guide: the page for that coding langauge will have links to all available resources.

General coding resources

These resources might cover a range of coding languages, help you with general concepts, or offer suggestions for what you learn.

Codecademy is a popular site for learning coding, with free courses (though for some features you have to pay). It also has a 'sorting quiz' to try and match you to coding mindsets and languages you might want to start learning.

If you want something with a course structure, you might want to try a free course on a site like FutureLearn, edX, or Open Learn. There are often introductory coding courses that combine videos, articles, and practical exercises, and allow you to learn alongside other people.

Coding for fun

We think all coding is fun, but sometimes you might want something more focused on play or discovery. Whether it's to relax, think in a different way, or learn with children, here's our suggestions for playful activities that develop coding skills.

Scratch is a great way to learn block-based coding whilst creating fun animations and games. You can start by having a go at building something, or by trying out other people's projects and then looking at the code that runs them. There is also a ScratchJr app with a simpler interface.

Scratch example with a cat character that moves when you click a button
Scratch allows you to control things on the screen, such as getting the sprite to move or a sound to play.

Hour of Code has a list of free hour-long activities and games that teach different elements of coding and coding skills. These are aimed at different age groups and skill levels, but are great resources for anyone to try out. You can make games based on well-known characters, create art and drawings, and learn the basics of coding in inventive ways.

Create a game with Scratch

Want to try out Scratch or have a go coding a game?

We've developed a session around creating a point and click game in Scratch. Work through the session slides and then use the walkthrough to create a 'hunter' game.