Getting Started with Python – Dipping a Toe in Coding
So last week I took part in the Getting Started with Python lecture offered here through Training. I’ve been in several coding programs in the past (Java, Html, VB, Python to name a few) but this course, though condensed to fit 8 hours, was top notch.
I’ve found that with other coding languages they spend a lot of time discussing this or that, but not pushing us students into the deep end and showing us first hand how it’s done. If you don’t have any experience in coding or the logic behind it, this course is exactly what you need as a first step to developing your coding skills and confidence in the material. I’ve a dogeared copy of ‘Hello World’ – Coding for Dummies on my desk that I frequently flip through.
In the past I’ve had courses that have us read texts about the structure and methodology of coding but this is really only one side of coding. Looking solely at the logic behind what’s being done rather then getting your hands ‘dirty’, working with code, isn’t the optimum way for teaching coding. In many cases coding is a new language to some, with it’s own rules and structure. Learning new ways of thinking isn’t easy. Getting immersed in and and seeing the inner workings is the the best way to learn.
‘Getting Started with Python’ is aptly named. Right off the get-go the instructor had us discussing what we’ll be using (which platforms do what and why). From there we began setting the foundation of the logic by explaining the data types and how to structure your functions/code. From there on you’ll be building code step-by-step getting a clear picture of what each piece (line) of code does. If you remember the childhood limerick about ‘your knee bone’s connected to your’ it’s akin to that. You’ll see how each piece is connected, and how/why it’ll do a ‘thing’ in your code. I’ll try not to spill too much more on the lecture’s content from here on in.
I found the first few hours to be a refresher to knowledge I already had but the later few were a clear break from what I’d learned early on. Error Checking, Debugging and Try tests to fix your code were never really well covered in other courses I’ve taken introducing you to a new code. This is something I feel that should be covered early on in teaching anyone coding. Teach them the logic, structure and basics but also show them how they can solve their own errors. Show them how they can identify and fix their errors early so that they can begin improving their skills and knowledge early on. I can’t explain how useful this is early on when you’re not confident in your coding. Where everything is trial and error.
The Getting Started with Python course is an ideal way of getting people into the coding mind frame. I’ll probably refer it along to anyone looking to developing their coding skills.