According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer programmers have a median salary of about $72K and the demand for these careers is expected to increase 12% between now and 2020. Much has been made about the shortage of STEM professionals in this country and the near-absence of minority-helmed tech startups. But there have also been efforts to close this gap through programs designed to teach coding to anyone who wants to learn. One of the most visible contributors to this effort has now made it even easier to grasp the basic concepts of coding, right from your smartphone.
Codeacademy, one of the more well-known organizations that brought free online coding instruction to the masses now has an app that works in tandem with their web offering. The Hour of Code app was released in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week and has the full support of President Barack Obama and other members of Congress.
The free app is extremely simple to use. An easy-to-navigate interface takes you through a series of exercises that show the basics of code structure and function. Answering questions correctly moves you along to the next level of instruction. The levels are broken up into bite-sized sections (about four questions), that makes this app perfect for the mobile environment. The idea is for people to tap through a section when they have some free time, spreading that hour out over time and quickly learning on the go. Keep in mind though that the Hour of Code app was designed to accompany the lessons on the Codeacademy website. You can do some coding at home, and then reinforce and review those concepts with the app on your mobile device. The only negative is that the app is currently only available for iPhone. Some five million students at 33,000 schools in 166 countries worldwide are expected to take part in this initiative.
While you obviously won’t be able to go out and get a job after just using this app for an hour, I love the idea of introducing people to the concept of coding in an engaging and easy to understand way. I just finished my first section and shared it on Twitter, but I believe even someone who considers themselves a “non-techie” will be able to get something useful from it. I am also convinced that anything that can expose more young people to STEM-related careers is never a bad thing. Sixty minutes of inspiration just might produce the next Mark Zuckerberg.
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