Only a few weeks in Kansas City, and LaunchCode is already making good on its promise to improve the area’s coding competency with a free, 16-week computer science course.
And this mathematically-challenged, technically-inept journalist is going to do his best not to embarrass himself while attempting to learn the science of computing.
Open to all community members — even those as dense as me — the course will model Harvard University’s introduction to computer science class, which taps the expertise of area professionals. In this case, scientists at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Computing and Engineering will offer a preface to the world of programming.
“The strength of learning basic programming is that it’s foundational learning — it is the basis for all languages,” said Anna Welchman, LaunchCode’s company relations manager. “It’s like learning the alphabet and sentence structure of programming, so that as a person learns languages, they more quickly can excel.”
Like a marathon or hotdog eating contest, learning basic programming is a lingering aspirations I had hoped to accomplish by now. I’ve reported on Kansas City tech for years, yet struggle to reconcile the abstraction that is coding.
Did a drunk guy paw at a keyboard for an hour or are those jumbled letters and symbols an app? What’s debugging and why were insects introduced to computer science in the first place? Can I use trendy phrases like “Yoda conditions” and “brogrammer” after this course?
As a result of my ignorance, I haven’t developed a full appreciation of the challenges that techies face when building the cool things I’m privileged to write about. While it’s a rudimentary course, I’m hoping it will offer insight into a world where final products are admired, but the toiling behind them is often overlooked.
But, thankfully, LaunchCode has words of encouragement for those that have yet to discover a potentially obscured talent.
“We believe in a long-tail approach to learning,” Welchman said. “There are people who have skills because they built them for themselves. But there are many people who have the aptitude but have not been exposed. We want to bring them along as well.”
I’m planning to chronicle my computing campaign in an ongoing format on Startland — that is if I can pass LaunchCode’s 15-question assessment to evaluate my “fit” in the course. It recommended grabbing a calculator … cue the palpitations.