To be shamelessly honest, I got stuck on my way to computer literacy. Now you might understand why I chose the name, “Rookies at Work”! Let me share some obstacles I’m facing, as well as my first tiny success.
Which computer language do you pick as a rookie?
There are zillions of languages for various purposes. In the real world, you might pick Latin or Greek if you want to read and study ancient literature in its original version. To make strides in the corporate world, it’s helpful to learn English or Chinese. The cool thing about the real world is you know in advance the benefits of a particular language. It’s different in the world of bits and bytes. Which computer language(s) do you choose as a newbie? Which is good for what? As a rookie, you’re lost in space and, so far, I can’t find satisfying answers.
How will you apply your computer language skills?
Do you want to design websites? Write games or apps? Learning to write code for the sake of being able to write code doesn’t work for me, as I realized after making some missteps. I love doing real things and I’m no good at learning for the sake of learning. I believe computer literacy is a key competency in the Digital Age, but how does that translate into specific skills?
What, for instance, would you think of a person who says, “Oh, I am a very literate person able to speak languages”? You’d probably scratch your head. What a difference compared to a person saying, “I write short stories in French and also learned some regional dialects, because I want my characters to be as realistic as possible.” Or, “I work as a doctor in Africa and I’ve learned a couple of languages spoken by local tribes I encounter.”
How do you want to improve over time?
As of now, I can’t estimate which learning goals are realistic and which are not. How difficult is it to write simple mobile apps? (“Define simple,” you may ask.) How tough is it to create a web-based forum? It’s hard to judge as a rookie.
Draw a roadmap for your journey.
Let me sum up the most common difficulties facing a complete newbie to computer literacy, and how I intend to overcome them:
1. Select a specific task to accomplish.
A coding language is a tool to accomplish a clearly defined task. I’ll turn off my computer, take a deep breath and brainstorm about what I want to create.
2. Try to figure out how difficult the task is.
Once I define my task, I’ll connect with experienced coders to examine what they think about my endeavor. How would they proceed? How long should it take to get things done?
3. Understand which set of languages you need.
I’ve come to realize you may need multiple languages to accomplish a specific task. I’m not sure which tasks I need to learn, but I am sure my geeky friends will help me decide.
Climb every mountain.
Now, here’s the tiny success story I mentioned earlier: I’m getting used to some very basic computer language concepts. Let me give you an example: In my first coding classes, I couldn’t understand the language used to describe coding language. What are strings? How about variables? What does it mean to “declare variables”?
But after a couple of weeks, my comfort level is rising. My conclusion? Coding isn’t rocket science. It’s just different from other areas in life you may be familiar with. It’s reassuring to know computer literacy is a mountain I can conquer. It still looks like Mount Everest , but who knows? Maybe one day, I’ll stand atop it waving a victory flag. Care to join me?
Suggestions, ideas and feedback are always welcome! Shoot me a line at Twitter @RafaelKnuth. I look forward to hearing from you.