Got an hour? Learn to code

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For one week, Code.org's Hour of Code event will offer one-hour tutorials on the basics of computer science

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For you've mused about dipping your toe into programming but can't find the time, Code.org is about to give you one fewer excuse to procrastinate.

From Dec. 8-14, 2014, Code.org is pushing to have Hour of Code events hosted around the world by its network of volunteers. The Hour is, in the organization's own words, "a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify code and show that anybody can learn the basics."

The tutorials, all clocking in at an hour, cover common programming languages and environments, with the subject matter and approach geared mainly for beginners or young students. (One of the lessons features Anna and Elsa from "Frozen," in a pattern-making tutorial that uses concepts from the Logo language.)

Lessons use the likes of JavaScript, Python, MIT's AppInventor, and the Scratch game-programming environment as part of the teaching plan. All are intended as simple introductions, but they cost nothing to use and can be freely redistributed as-is for educational use.

For those with a tablet or a less capable PC, Code.org has tutorials that run specifically on iPads or Android tablets. For the completely tech-less, the organization has tutorials featuring what it describes as "'unplugged' computer science," or ways to understand common information science concepts by way of household items like decks of cards, pen and paper, or even games of rock-paper-scissors.

Code.org events are informally organized, and in theory, anyone can host an event by reading the how-to guide and registering their event on the map. Some 70,000 Hour of Code events have been registered, with the majority taking place in public and private schools, but a few are sponsored by corporations (American Express) or nonprofits (Youth on the Move).

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