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New Year’s Resolutions: Learning to Program

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With 2012 upon us, now is the perfect time to pick projects for the new year. If your new year’s resolution involves learning to program or expanding your technical skills, you’re not alone. Even outside of formal programs there are lots of options for getting started including a new site for learning to code in 2012.

As Jason described in the fall, Codecademy is a website that was launched with interactive lessons for basic programming concepts through JavaScript. One of it’s best assets is a built-in environment for coding and a progressive pace that remembers your place and challenges you to recall previously-learned concepts with hints and reminders available. This can be a great start if you’re looking to understand coding for the first time, whether your goal is to build your own projects, better understand the technology you use, or to build a foundation for communicating with collaborators.

Codecademy has a new free project aimed at the resolution crowd: Code Year is designed for people who want to learn to code in 2012. Codecademy is offering interactive lessons every week, via email. The weekly emails and long-term frame of the project are part of its strength: unlike the ubiquitous crash courses or “learn to program in 24 hours” books, Code Year is potentially designed to keep coding on your schedule even after resolution season has passed–which is always the biggest challenge.

Perhaps one of the most impressive parts of Code Year so far is the tally of resolution-makers: over 250,000 people have signed up for the weekly mailings–a clear demonstration of the draw both of learning to program and of this type of structured project, which could evolve into something resembling a massively open online course as participants find each other through the #codeyear Twitter hashtag and other networks. Ideally, this could eliminate some of the feeling of isolation that is inherent in tutorial-based online learning.

Code Year is just one of the ways to get started with programming, but it’s an exciting prospect for 2012. Have you made a new year’s resolution to learn to code or pick up a new programming language? How are you getting started? Let us know in the comments!

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Flickr user Wouter Verhelst]

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