The problem with ads promising to teach you how to code

You’ve seen them on your Facebook timeline, scrolling through Instagram, or maybe even Reddit: an ad that reads something like “Learn how to code and land your dream job”. It sounds great, but is it legit? or a hoax.

It can be difficult to navigate which workshops or online resources are useful

When you’re just thinking about learning more about technology it can be difficult to navigate which workshops or online resources are useful and which ones are a waste of time. There’s so much information out there and it can be difficult to know where to start.

I began my journey learning how to program about this time last year and I am still very much so a beginner. So, I completely empathize with the daunting task of having to sift through all of the resources online to figure out what is applicable to you and your learning.

Let’s start by getting familiar with the verbiage so that you know what people are talking about in these ads.

The problem with this is that HTML is not a language, but rather the skeletal structure of a webpage

A selling point I see so often is learn how to code with HTML and CSS. The problem with this is that HTML is not a language, but rather the skeletal structure of a webpage. It organizes everything into boxes that you see on a screen so that you can manipulate those boxes to get them to do what you want them to do.  See for yourself. If you have google chrome, select option, command, i. This will pull up a console that allows you to see the way interface is constructed. Make sure that “Elements” is selected, then hover over the elements on the console, it will highlight the part of the webpage that it’s referring to.

In those boxes, most webpages also have a bit of styling. CSS is one of the many ways that you can incorporate styling on a webpage. It works by referring to the labels of these elements and assigns a color, shape, or behavior to improve the visual experience.

To better understand this, I like to compare learning how to code to learning foreign language

At a higher level, I don’t even like ads that only say “learn how to code” without too much more detail. To better understand this, I like to compare learning how to code to learning foreign language.  If you’re learning how to speak Spanish, for example, you learn the alphabet, the sounds, then the words, and how they all fit together to give meaning to communication. Learning how to program parallels that experience. You might learn the rules of the way the language is structured, the tools you’ll need to use the technology, and then use a series of functions or methods to build your project and find a creative solution to a problem. Saying that you’re a coder is like saying you’re a worder… it makes more sense to say, you are a communicator, you’re verbal, you speak a particular language, etc. People who write code are developers, engineers,  data scientists, quality assurance engineers, or just hobbyists with lots of curiosity.

People who write code are developers, engineers,  data scientists, quality assurance engineers, or just hobbyists with lots of curiosity

So, when you’re navigating your search, look out for platforms that say something like ‘learn the basics of javascript’, ‘learn how to build your first application using Vue’, or ‘intro to data science with Python’. You know what you will be building, the technology you will be implementing, and the depth in which you’ll cover that specific topic.

Lastly, I tend to raise and eyebrow when I see click bate that reads “find your dream job”. My perspective is this: the prospect of learning a new skill and getting a job in technology is definitely real, but a dream job is whatever you decide a dream job is for you. If technology is the industry that has your dream job, then great. If not, then the search continues. It also implies that once you learn this skillset, land the job, then everything’s kosher…you’re done for the day and that’s just not the case. Once you learn the foundation of a programming language, you can learn more about different libraries, pairing it with a back end component and a database so that you can store and pass information to and from. At the expert level, you can dive deep into the structure of an application making decisions about the best way to build something so that it can scale or perform better.

Embarking on a journey to learn how to write code has endless possibilities. Although there are bits and pieces that you can learn in a short amount of time, it still takes years to master the skill just like anything else. The most important thing is to just take it one small step at a time and have fun while you’re learning.

I hope this article is helpful and can make it a little bit easier to navigate the murky waters of the internet and dodge some click bate.

Until next time!

Respect.

 

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