“Hello world!” A beginner’s guide to the Hour of Code

Hour of Code held between December 3 – 9 is a global invitation reaching out to anyone and everyone.  You are invited to spend an hour exploring the language of computer code.

If you have never written code before, you may find yourself wanting to turn away now. Please, please stay!. Hour of Code is a supportive, friendly, informal and fun way to let code into your heart.  You’ll also be making history. Hour of Code is the world’s largest learning event involving over 180 countries and with resources in more than 45 languages. Hour of Code is a movement to get more people from all walks of life to tinker and play with code for one hour.

An ode to code

Hour of Code is part of Computer Science Education Week. If the term “computer science” seems at all daunting to you, if you believe that you aren’t good with computers or technology, or that code is an expressionless list of commands of procedures, you are the very person I want to invite to Hour of Code.  That feeling of being on the edge? That sense of being outside your comfort zone? A feeling of not belonging? That idea that code has nothing for you? Push past it. Hour of Code is for you.

Coding is a machine language, but the act of writing code is very human. Code as a form of writing exhibits similar challenges as any other form of writing. Written by imperfect humans, bias can emerge in code. Code can be funny, poetic and can be used to create beautiful art.  Code is shareable languages through which we can talk to each other.  Code is social, bringing people together to make things together.  Code transports us to the frontier of exploration, helping us get to far away places in the universe together.

Coding languages have a syntax and rules.  Once you begin to recognise one language, you can look at other coding languages and understand other related languages.  One of my favourite voices about learning coding, Linda Liukas, programmer and author of Hello Ruby books shares her passion for the human side of coding here in  One Hundred Languages.

What will I do in one hour?

You’ll be expressing yourself in a way that feels right for you. There are free tutorials at hourofcode.com with everything from low-tech projects with simple materials, to using specific technologies and coding languages. There are even ways to use code to get physical, so don’t limit your thinking to coding at a computer. You could find yourself jumping around the room to your favourite music, powered by code.

Don’t know which tutorial to start with? Try one of these Top 5 projects – Hour of Code from Code Club Australia

If you don’t have access to computers or devices don’t be dismayed. You can filter Hour of Code projects that are unplugged, that don’t require a computer or device but still explore computational creativity and making code together.

How do I get involved?

Any way you want to!! Join in from your own home by working through a tutorial, or see if you can find a local Hour of Code social coding event near you.  Try searching for #HourOfCode.

You could even register your own event!

Organise your own grassroots hour of power!

No experience is needed to run your own own Hour of Code event. Using the How to Guide, you could gather together in a local cafe, a local library, community hall or even in your lounge room.

Why do we need to understand code?

“Technology is built on humanity”

Linda Liukas

We tell children, that code is an important digital literacy to help them find a job in the future. However, we also tell children that we don’t know what the jobs of the future are! In other words, adults are clearly confused by not-knowing the future, and can’t be relied at all upon to run the world.

The more we all understand code together, across generations,  the better we can be at making smart things for everyone. I think we all desire a future built on code written with diverse perspectives.

Computer science needs people with big hearts as much as it needs big brains. It needs all of us. If you are reading this far, perhaps you are already more curious that you realise. Are you wondering what you might build? Are you looking forward to the simply joy of playing? If you are a reader, a writer, a poet, an artist, an ecologist, a lover, a dreamer, a grandmother, anyone – take a leap and open your mind to trying just one Hour of Code.

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