National Coding Week bids goodbye

As National Coding Week runs for the last time, Dr Rongzhong Li offers five tips to help people acquire an increasingly important skill

This week marks the latest – and, in all likelihood, last – running of National Coding Week.

Established by Richard Rolfe in 2014 to encourage people to find out more about the subject, or to try their hand at writing computer code, it appears that the annual, volunteer-run event will not extend beyond its founder’s forthcoming retirement.

“Let’s make 2022 a great year for National Coding Week and end it on a high note,” says the sign-off on the event’s website.

In the meantime, demand for coding will surely only increase. As long ago as 2016, a report for the government’s Skills Funding Agency predicted that 90% of all jobs would require digital skills within two decades.

This fact is rather at odds with the overwhelmingly high proportion of a workforce – even those in their late twenties, still relatively new to the jobs market – who were not taught coding as part of the national curriculum at school.

One man with a particular interest in the subject is Dr Rongzhong Li, the founder and CEO of Petoi, whose straightforwardly programmable robot dogs and cats have been sold in more than 60 countries.

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“Many adults who come from a non-tech background are intimidated by the prospect of coding,” says Dr Li. “And, yes, while it will take focus and dedication, anyone can learn coding on a basic level and, in fact, it can be fun and rewarding.”

To keep up with the needs of an increasingly tech-augmenting world of work, Dr Li believes that all adults should learn the basics of coding.

To that end, and to coincide with National Coding Week, he has drawn up a list of five tips for would-be learners:

  • Brush up on your maths skills “Maths is fundamental for any science and engineering field,” says Dr Li. You’ll find a free course available at learndirect.
  • Think like a computer “Computational thinking is the skill to think like a computer, to perform automation of tedious tasks to boost productivity.” Dr Li advises that children can learn such skills by playing with drag-and-drop programming environment, Scratch, while adults can do the same with MIT App inventor.
  • Learn the language Once drag and drop programming has been learned, says Dr Li, the next step is to learn popular programming languages such as Python and C++, using free platforms such as Code Academy.
  • Get into physics Because not all coding is screen-based. In robotics, for example, people need to understand the physics of robots moving in a three-dimensional fashion. Dr Li recommends building motorised Lego objects to understand the process.
  • Make it fun “Making coding fun and enjoyable will help you to stick at it. Whether you want to programme your own robot cat or dog, car or arcade machine, there is something for everyone”.

National Coding Week runs from 19-25 September. For further information click here.

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