Education

Crack the code

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Coding is an invaluable skill today and is relevant in numerous fields. While poeple have begun to understand the need and demand for coders, learning to code is very different from other subjects.

Since it is a much younger discipline, there have been a fewer studies on learning to write code efficiently. Below are a few tips that should be the foundation for all students:

Nobody is born a ‘natural coder’: Competence at programming is not innate but a learnable skill that can be acquired and improved with practice. ‘Some students just get coding and some don’t’ is a myth that leads some learners to put in less effort. But, with the right learning resources and guidance, coding can be learnt by anyone from any background.

Learn by doing: Rather than learning from slides and theory, students should learn to create and write their codes to get a deeper understanding of the what-if questions. This also allows them to understand how to diagnose and correct mistakes. Most beginners will spend most of their time doing this, but it is left out of most textbooks.

Learn from examples with labels: Several studies have shown that students perform better when learning from worked-out examples. When these are broken down into steps (or sub-goals) that are given names (or labels), it allows them to understand the structure and flow of the code. Sub-goals help students spot similarities between problems and communicate more efficiently with others.

Use relevant and real-life tasks: Students learn better when they edit real images, audio and videos in early assignments. Not only does it help remember coding principles, but also keeps them interested. They accomplish more when they see visible and satisfying results. The goal is to move as quickly from ‘hard and boring’ to ‘easy and exciting’.

Find a coding mentor: Even though there are several online resources that teach coding, an important factor is the absence of two-way communication. Most online options are passive and, even if interactive, do not allow students to let a real person know where they’re struggling. Personalised one-on-one teaching will help tailor the coding curriculum to address these needs and allow a better grasp.

Learning to read doesn’t start by reading a classic novel. Instead, one starts with alphabets, words, sentences, paragraphs, pages and then books. Coding is similar. With the right guidance and resources, students of any age and background can become successful coders.

The writer is CEO & Co-founder, Toppr

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 10:55:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/tips-to-become-successful-coders/article32916080.ece

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