Jan 05, 2012

What do you think about encouraging employees to learn coding?

I read an article in Slate that talked about a free project from Codecademy called "Code Year". It is basically a year long program to teach the basics of programming to people without tech backgrounds. It requires a commitment to at least one lesson per week, with each lesson requiring about 5 hours. I personally think having employees understand a little about what those magic boxes on their desks are actually doing would be a good thing, and prevent a lot of resources being spent on fixing problems caused by ignorance. It would be a hard sell, but I'm thinking of trying to encourage employees to take the course, perhaps even allowing them to spend .5 hour per day at work on it. That would still require a little more than 2 hours of effort outside of the office by employees, but that seems fair since both the company and the employee would benefit. What do you think? Is this a good, workable idea, or is there no way it will fly?


I think employees should be encouraged into learning coding or whatever may lead them into professional development and achieving higher experience on their job position inside the company. The learning and development company policies ought to prove an ascending vision, towards performance and high learning opportunities. During my behavioral science classes, I learned that people can be convinced into becoming whatever they want to be. Experience is dictated by motivation and willingness and it can be achieved in any field. 


I did a little research for this answer, believe it or not.  I checked out Codecademy.com and did the first two sessions (a number of which make up each lesson).  It was straightforward and pretty engaging, with little rewards for your efforts in the form of digital medals.  It was a nostalgic experience in some ways, reminding me of sitting at an old IBM PCjr as a kid trying to learn basic.  Since it wasn't a miserable waste of time, I sent out a question to 5 semi-techy friends to see if they would be interested.  Three of them were not interested at all.  One was of the opinion that it looked ok, but was not interested enough to actually do the program.  Only one of them thought it looked fun and wanted to do it, but was doubtful that he could find the time.  Clearly, this is only a small sample, but I bet that you would find something similar; the majority of people would not find it appealing, but a few would.  I think you are more likely to have success just by informing employees that this is out there, and the few that are of the mindset to find Codecademy interesting will have a chance to follow through on their own. 

I suspect it would be a waste of time and that you'd be shoveling poop against a huge tide of disinterest and boredom. Most people could not care less about how software works, just that they can use it to do their work and personal stuff.

It's probably a better idea to improve user training in the software that is relevant to them, rather than trying to convert them into novice programmers. More efficient work habits, and a better understanding of what's possible would probably serve companies a bit better.

There may be a few odd ducks though who would enjoy learning about programming.
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