Jan 08

You Could Be the Next, Great Computer Programmer

Looking to learn something new in 2012? Why not try computer programming? There are online tools and tutorials to assist wannabe programmers of all ages …

Scratch – From the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT comes this great way to introduce children (or anyone, for that matter) to programming concepts. I’ve written about Scratch before so check out my previous post for more details and examples.

Along the same lines, you may want to check out Carnegie Melon’s Alice and the online programming tool Gamestar Mechanic, which was recently highlighted over at Kevin’s Meandering Mind.  I’m considering introducing this to the students at St. John’s this spring.

HTML – The basic language of the web, W3 Schools offers free interactive tutorials to get you started.  Use the site top menu bar to explore their other tutorials including CSS, XML, ASP, PHP and SQL. The site is loaded with reference materials and examples as well.

Python – Python is a good first-step programming language, and the book Dive Into Python 3 is available for free under Creative Commons license.

After you get your feet wet, test your Python knowledge with The Python Challenge, billed as “the first programming riddle on the net”.

JavaScript – My friends at LifeHacker have a free Night School series titled “Learn To Code: The Full Beginners Guide” which features video tutorials. Check out the first one below then head over to Night School to get started.

Another JavaScript tutorial which I just discovered this week is the Code Academy, an online interactive resource (similar to the HTML site mentioned earlier) for learning JavaScript. Sign up at CodeYear.com to receive weekly Code Academy lessons throughout 2012.

Java – Even though they have similar names, Java is a different animal than Java Script. My oldest son is learning Java primarily through the Head First book series. He uses the free, cross-platform Net Beans development tool to write his code. They offer a quick-start Java tutorial on their site.

Will 2012 be the year you turn into a programmer? According to a recent Good Technology article, good programmers may need experience even more than a college degree.  So get started, and let me know how you progress!

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