Coding continues to make steady inroads into the mainstream. Long gone are the days when only small niches of people were coders. The increasing amount of data being collected every day and its increasing value is one of the main reasons for the rapid rise in the use of coding. Every computer program is a means of manipulating data, but when the amount of data is huge, a computer program becomes the only way of making any sense of it.
This is the reason why Python courses for beginners have become more popular than ever. Although hidden behind the headline stats of the increasing number of people who start to learn how to code is a harder figure to quantify: those people who give up early on. The first hurdle is often the toughest one when learning programming.
In this post we will discuss why coding has become central to every aspect of our society and many work places. I will also compare different approaches of how a beginner can go about learning how to code — some better than others.
The first hurdle is often the toughest one when learning programming
The rise of data. The rise of programming.
The rapid change in the amount of data we collect is often talked about. The hand-written ledgers we had in the past to keep track of activities of a company have been replaced with data streaming in from all sources: customer bookings, website visits, adverts and more. Companies that deal with financial data have even more that's available to them with new numbers flowing in every second. The same pattern is true for every line of work, or indeed every aspect of our life and world.
What we do with those data depends on many things. Simple computations can be done easily using other means, often by using spreadsheets. But what if we want to explore the data in a more meaningful way, to extract items with certain properties and look for patterns that can give meaningful insights. Doing this manually can very rapidly become impossible or just very time consuming.
Here's a case study from a participant in one of our recent corporate training courses. Every morning they received several emails from different sources each with spreadsheets containing data. In order to obtain key metrics needed by team members, he would collate a new spreadsheet with about 40 columns taken from the different spreadsheets, some of which needed modification so that all columns matched. This new spreadsheet was then used to obtain several key metrics based on patterns in the data.
This very lengthy and error prone process was reduced to just under a second by running a Python program that fetches all the data from different sources automatically, collating them as required, calculating the various metrics and outputting them using pretty graphs. The team could now use their time to focus on other tasks.
Is it difficult to learn Python programming?
Honest answer: it's not easy, but there are ways to make it easier
Programming for beginners is not an easy subject to teach, and therefore to learn. It falls into the category of those subjects that are abstract and that put a barrier which affect understanding. Often it is taught as a methods subject: what I mean by this is that students are taught how to use a certain tool using the correct notation and order of commands.
That is not good enough. Programming should not be taught as a methods subject (no subject should be taught like that). They key to learning programming is to understand why things are done the way they are. When teaching beginners I often start by telling them that what they need to learn is the programming mindset and to be able to see a problem not from a human perspective but from that of a computer (or more accurately from that of a computer programming language.)
We often have students who join our Python programming courses who have done some coding before. We explain that we start from the basics to get the fundamentals right and at the end of the course they always tell us that they hadn't realised how much of the basics they hadn't really understood in the past and how much clearer the act of programming is now.
So, for the executive summary: when looking for a coding course for beginners, look for one that truly looks at programming as a way of thinking rather than a series of tools you have to learn. Once you get programming, using all the tools becomes much easier.
Our focus at codetoday is on Python coding courses for beginners for those who do not necessarily want to become full time programmers but want to get started with coding or use it as part of their work. We also run extensions to our Introductory course that focuses on using programming for quantitative applications such as Finance, Science, Maths and othte data-driven fields.