On 12th March, AS and A2 students began their 5 week coding course with Maryam Ahmad, a Doctorate student from Wolfson College, Oxford. Coding, otherwise known as programming, is now widely known to be the most important skill of the future and is becoming the most highly demanded skill in the job market. Moreover, this does not only apply for those seeking jobs in technology- someone with skills in coding could find this helps them advance their career in medicine, in finance or as an engineer.
And so, on Sunday evening, students gathered in the canteen area for what was their first introduction to coding. We began with a brief introduction into the history of computers and computer programming. What was fascinating was the way in which so much of the history of coding was led by women, with Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron) taking the lead as arguably the world’s first computer programmer. Unfortunately, it is the case today that computer programming is very male dominated, and so it was good to see the girls at OIC getting stuck in and developing their own code later on.
A few laughs were had by all as Maryam showed us all the very first online search engine launched by Yahoo in 1994. Back then, there were only 30,000 websites listed in categories, and today there is a staggering 30 billion websites listed by Google, which just goes to show how quickly the internet is expanding every day.
After learning all of this, everyone was itching to have a go and try some coding for themselves, and Maryam showed us an idea of what we could hope to achieve by the end of the course- an online weather checker where one could type in the name of any city to find the temperature there. The focus for this week was HTML, the coding language used to input content into a website. Whilst a page of HTML code looked initially daunting to the students, once Maryam broke this down, it became apparent how intuitive much of the language is and students were able to correctly guess the meaning behind a piece of code. Once the basics were mastered, students set to work inputting content into their own individual websites. They were encouraged to use the internet to look up how to insert specific types of content, to enable them to continue to expand their knowledge and abilities outside of the classroom.
As the lesson drew to a close, all students had successfully created their own website. The next thing to do was enhance the visuals- the websites were not yet looking any more sophisticated than Yahoo’s website from 1994! We learnt that a new language- CSS- is needed to do this, and so the lesson finished with the promise of more visually appealing websites by the end of the next class. Students left with a sense of achievement for what they had already created and enthusiasm to learn more. With impressive results already, we look forward to seeing what the students are able to create by the end of the course.