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This aimed at anyone who is currently teaching themselves to learn how to code.
We explore the challenges and stumbling blocks behind the learning experience and what we can all do to address those problems.
Why can some people learn how to code with relative ease, yet others fail? Why do some people graduate with a computer science degree yet struggle when they get on the job? Are software developers somehow genetically superior? Or can it be learned? If we tried to revolutionise how people learn to code, could we do it?
These are a few of the questions I used as a starting point to explore how people learn to code.
We've asked beginners and experts on their observations and used this information to try and improve upon the existing ways of learning how to code.
We hope you can take something away from it.
If you’d like to learn more about the research and programming academy that we’re building on top of it, check out www.MakersAcademy.com and/or email me at email@example.com.
Why is learning to code hard?
• Some people teach themselves with ease yet others fail.
• Why do some people with a computer science degree
struggle when they get on the job?
• Are software developers somehow genetically superior?
• Or can it be learned?
• If we tried to revolutionise how people learn to code,
could we do it?
• Demand for software developers is high and starting
salaries are high. The future is bright.
• We have more learning resources than ever before
with world-class content for free on the internet.
• Despite the resources and incentives to learn, many
people who try to teach themselves how to program
The Failing Points
• Help Sections.
• Sudden leap in difﬁculty.
• Inconsistent learning.
• Projects aren’t engaging.
• Novice developer using a help section is similar to
someone learning German using a native German
• It can work but it’s far from optimal. Terminology can be
Sudden leap in diﬃculty
• Nearly everyone noted at some point of their learning,
that they stumbled upon a sudden leap of difﬁculty.
• This crippled their ability to grasp follow-on concepts.
• Interestingly, it was different for every student.
• Trying to learn how to program in 20 minutes every
other evening doesn’t cut it.
• Software development highly builds on previous
• If you spend too much time between reinforcement,
learning gets more difﬁcult.
Projects aren’t engaging
• Difﬁculty managing motivation.
• Because who really wants to code another to-do list?
We asked 5 developers a variety of questions ranging
from where they saw beginners wasting time to what
they personally did to maintain coding prowess.
• Too many developers stay in their comfort zone.
• Bend whatever language/framework they know best to
problem at hand.
• Makes sense because people want to feel good
• I noticed that every developer I asked questions to would ponder
the questions much longer than the average person would have.
• They would sit and think thoroughly for 1-2 minutes.
• Hypothesis that this reluctance to jump at the ﬁrst thing is directly
correlated to their success in programming.
• Many novices take the trial-and-error approach and while it can
be useful, not always the best tool.
• In addition, thorough exploration of a problem also correlates to
their stick-with-it-ness, a primary indicator of great hackers.
How they spent time on the job
Most of their time fell into one of the following four slots:
• Fixing bugs and making minor changes to existing
• Adding new features to an existing code base.
• Writing new software from scratch.
• Refactoring (making a material architectural change to
a code base without changing functionality - difﬁcult.)
Where to go from here?
• Use a Mentor.
• Build your own projects.
• Review others’ code.
• Few minutes here and there isn’t going to work.
• If you want to learn to code, you have to commit to it.
Use a mentor
• Find someone experienced to sit with you, even for 30
• 30 minutes pair programming with an expert every
week can provide signiﬁcant improvements in the
Build your own projects
• Constantly bouncing from tutorial to tutorial is good to
grasp the concepts but the quicker you build your own
stuff, the better.
• Using tutorials to learn is like a chef using recipes.
• It may show you how to make the dish but the
knowledge of the underlying concepts is where the
true learning will come.
Review others’ code
• If you use a tutorial to learn a concept, go to GitHub
and ﬁnd some places where people have used that
concept in an actual project.
If you’d like to learn more about the research and
programming academy that we’re building on top of it,
check out MakersAcademy.com and/or email me at