Big data for a big undertaking
FreeCodeCamp’s 2016 New Coder Survey is providing an unprecedented glimpse into how adults are learning to code. There is so much data from over 15,000 coders who took the survey (raw results are here). I’ll touch on some of the demographics in a bit but allow me to map out a scenario that hopefully will allow you to connect the dots in a much broader fashion.
Consider: Coding isn’t just for the cybergeeks anymore. Understanding even a little bit about coding can pay off in a big way. Coding is a valuable skill for marketers and any other members of a business team. Forget about sustainable algae farms, I would posit that learning to code has evolved into a global movement and is fast becoming one of the biggest phenomena of our time as there are literally millions of adults around the world who are learning to code.
So what does coding allow you to bring to the table? Let’s break it down for you:
- Use HTML to fine-tune some wonky text paragraphs. Even the smallest bit of HTML knowledge can be helpful when dealing with finicky content management systems.
- Communicate better with your company’s programmers. Maybe you don’t need to be a programming pro yourself, but having basic code literacy will help you relate to the coders in your workplace and better understand how and why bugs occur.
- Optimize and test landing pages. Basic HTML and CSS are crucial if you want to optimize and test your landing pages. And trust me–you definitely want to be doing those things!
- Cut down on IT managers. While you’ll likely still need some head IT honchos, more coders means less workout for the IT team.
- Empower creators. Understanding code opens up huge opportunities to create original, unique content, whether in the form of websites or through app development.
And not only that, there are plenty of sources where you can learn coding for free or pretty close to it (we’ll get to that shortly).
Learning to code: Just a school thing?
So we’ve established that learning to code can open all sorts of doors for you. It’s a career path that is age and gender neutral. But here’s the dilemma: Do you go to school and get into debt trying to maneuver through the coding jungle or so you try to just “pick it up” and learn by doing?
I’m glad you asked, and here’s where it get’s interesting. A recent study about the New York tech industry found that half of New York City’s technical work force doesn’t have a traditional college education (I’m using New York as a template because I happen to live in New York). That’s where a coding conduit like FreeCodeCamp comes in: FreeCodeCamp (and similar “institutions”) is an open source community that helps individuals learn to code. Students work through self-paced coding challenges, build projects, and earn certifications. As you learn you can get connected with people in your respective city so you can code together.
Take it one step further and you’ve got schools like Flatiron in NYC, General Assembly and Galvanize with locations across the nation, or Austin Coding Academy that are all trying to keep tuition to a minimum while teaching students how to code. Faster than you can say HTML, you can see that coding IS becoming a phenomenon and really is opening all sorts of doorways for young and old alike.
And now I can take the discussion back to the 2016 New Coder Survey. FreeCodeCamp’s Quincy Larson, who led the survey project, explains his goals quite simply when he states, “The more data we all have to learn from, the better we can understand why and how individuals are learning to code.”
With the trove of demographic and socio-economic data that is surfacing, researchers can better understand a coder’s employment goals, and their strategies for getting there.
Like I said earlier, the amount of demographic data is staggering and I encourage you to check it out here. Or follow me in Part II of this report and dig deeper together and see what we come up with.