INTRODUCTION TO PROGRAMMING WITH PYTHON (2015)

CHAPTER 1. WHY YOU SHOULD LEARN PROGRAMMING

The rise of smart devices, wireless connectivity, and increased user mobility in offices made computers an integral part of our lifestyles. As our reliance on smart devices and various apps to complete a diverse range of activities increases, learning to code is becoming akin to learning a second language.

Normally, we learn second languages to increase our reach, overcome geographic and cultural barriers, and to be able to communicate with people from diverse cultures. Smart devices have brought down barriers across different cultures, and have become one of our most trusted companions. However, we are not able to effectively communicate and instruct our smart companions to perform the actions that we desire.

Learning to effectively communicate with computers and smart devices, and being able to instruct them to perform different tasks is fast becoming something more than an added skill — it is becoming part of what it means to be human in the age of Digital Natives.

7 REASONS FOR LEARNING TO PROGRAM

Learn to program and you will be able to experience the following seven, awe-inspiring realities of being a Digital Native.

IT’S THE ONLY TIME WHEN WRITING CAN LITERALLY SOLVE PROBLEMS

The adage “pen is mightier than sword” is best served by programming languages. You literally type and communicate solutions to a problem on a computer, and it comes to life.

It’s amazing to realize how powerful this form of communication is. Most of smartphone users have visited App Stores and seen a range of apps, each solving a unique problem for us. Knowing a programming language means that you can break a problem into smaller problems and create programs for yourself and others.  So many problems, no matter how trivial can now be resolved simply by writing them out in a programming language.

PROGRAMMING TRANSFORMS YOUR COMPUTER AND SMARTPHONE INTO A POWERHOUSE

Humans landed on the moon relying on computing power at least a 1000 times less powerful than the computing power of our smartphones.

By 2016, over 2 billion people will be using smartphones across the globe. Just imagine what this processing power can be put to use for. Imagine what you can create and develop on your PC for use with your smartphones: personalized apps, games, tools, and more.

The possibilities are endless.

PROGRAMMING SIMPLIFIES TASKS BY AUTOMATING THEM

We live in a world where efficiency is the hallmark of everything. Nobody wants to perform tedious and repetitive tasks if you can pay for a solution that can automate it. This ranges from office tasks to personal ones.

By learning to code, you can create simple scripts that simplify tasks. Think of generating macros in Microsoft Office (Excel and Word) or scripts that simplify tasks you have to perform regularly at work e.g. creating folders for projects, completing forms, creating shortcuts, adding more features to existing software, etc.

IT DEVELOPS YOUR ABILITY FOR ABSTRACT AND DISCIPLINED THINKING

Instructing computers requires that give them step-by-step instructions that link pre-determined inputs to expected outcomes. To communicate to the computer, you have to write in an explicit language, from problem to solution. This requires breaking down abstract problems into simpler ones, and then organizing them into inputs and outputs.

Programming teaches you to organize thoughts and break down a problem into constituents, identifying external factors and triggers, and mapping a step-by-step route for computing the inputs into outputs i.e. into simpler chunks of programmable code.

This trains your mind to think clearly and systematically, filtering out information that has no bearings on the solution, and finding the simplest solution to the problem.

FUTURE JOBS WILL REQUIRE SOFTWARE SKILL

Currently, programming may be a skill to boast your chances of entry into the market, however as organizations focus on increasing interdepartmental collaboration, they begin to prefer people with inter-disciplinary skill sets. In the long run, being able to program will become a skill needed to survive in the technology market.

BECAUSE IT’S NOT HARD TO LEARN

If you can comprehend English language, learning to program is simply a matter of learning the logic behind programming words. Over the years, programming languages have become more intuitive, utilizing commands that clearly state their purpose and hence allow you to nearly construct sentences “If-Then”, “Else”, “Print”, “Switch”, are just the most commonly used commands in programming language.

All you have to do is learn the grammar, and with practice you will be able to write those short essays that identify the problem, its components and inputs, and the outputs for each input.

PROGRAMMING HAS GREAT EARNING POTENTIAL

As you get better at programming, you can easily leverage your problem solving skills to develop software for sale. This includes working as a freelancer — building apps, developing custom software, creating and designing websites, or helping clients complete tasks using existing software and platforms (Microsoft Excel and Word, Flash, Java, etc.).

IN CONCLUSION— PREPARE TO LEARN

Programming is an add-on to your current understanding of the English language. Think of it as a new dialect, one that your computer and smart device understands, one that has a lot of benefits in the modern world, is easy to learn and one that will soon become a must have for digital natives.