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What Are the Different Ways to Learn about Computer Programming?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 16, 2024
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Different ways to learn about computer programming include studying the basic logic behind programming, researching the mechanics behind how computer programs work, and by working through beginning tutorials in at least one popular programming language. Before attempting to write code, a tactic for understanding programming is to practice how to clearly define a problem and formulate a concise solution, because this logic often helps with the more technical mechanics of learning to write source code. A good number of books and websites covering how to get started programing are widely available. A beginning course at a local technical school or community college can also be a helpful way to learn about computer programming, as well as to receive feedback on first coding attempts.

To learn about computer programming effectively, some initial reading about the structure and function of computers is generally helpful. The syntax of any computer language often makes greater sense to beginners who understand the differences between input and output, as well as between high-level language and lower-level machine language. Contrary to expectations, many books on programming concepts are not difficult to read or full of technical jargon. Any number of them are written with the beginner in mind and therefore with straightforward language.

As many experienced programmers will testify, an advanced mathematics degree is not a prerequisite to learn about computer programming. Strengths in basic problem solving can be helpful, but the main requirements are attention to detail and a willingness to devote the time to learning. The Internet may provide a wide range of teaching tools for beginning programming, and many contain instruction comparable in quality to that received in some college classrooms. For beginners who are ready to learn about computer programming through writing code, step-by-step video tutorials can be a valuable resource.

One area of programming that can often confuse beginners is the choice of a first programming language. Experienced programmers often have varying opinions as to which language is the best for newcomers, and many can be adamant that their choice of language is the only correct one. Beginners to programing languages can usually find a solution to this dilemma by investigating the structure and rules of several languages for the one that appears the most intuitive to learn. This programming language is usually different for different learning styles and backgrounds, but each choice is an equally legitimate one.

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Discussion Comments
By KoiwiGal — On Jul 25, 2014

@umbra21 - In a way I don't think that's as much of a problem anymore, because people grow up with computers and get used to them and how they work.

Every kid these days has their own website and will dabble in the HTML code. And there are plenty of computer games that are based around the idea of implementing If X Then Y command structures.

Younger children even have computer programs around that will teach them basic coding principles using a WYSIWYG engine.

I remember learning how to make a simple game when I was twelve or thirteen and there was nothing alien about it. It made perfect sense to me and fitted in neatly with what I already knew about computers and how they work.

By umbra21 — On Jul 24, 2014

@Ana1234 - I think it's very important for people to realize that computer programming has to rely on logic in the sense that the computer cannot do anything that it hasn't been told, correctly, to do.

Most people don't really think about what intuition and logic actually mean when they are trying to solve a problem. But when you're coding, you have to be able to see clearly how actions are going to affect results.

By Ana1234 — On Jul 23, 2014

One way to approach computer programming in general is to take a course in Logic at university, usually offered through the Philosophy department. I took philosophy when I was at university and we had dozens of computer science students in that class, because it was one of their requirements.

It actually made for a much more interesting class, because they were approaching it with a different worldview than the philosophy majors. At any rate, it explores the basic ideas of logic that underlie both computer commands and philosophical thought and it gives a nice theoretical background to anyone interested in either of those pursuits.

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