Let's learn to "Code at Home"

| 4 min read

This post provides information on the simple Code at Home initiative - what it is and what you need to join in.

  • Episodes on Mondays and Fridays at 15:30 UK time.
  • Last episode in this first series will be Ep.20 on Mon 18 May.
  • Subscribe on YouTube and find all the upcoming episode links here: youtube.com/djadams-qmacro
  • Find a summary list of the past episode recordings, with links, here: Code at Home episodes
  • New: Please take 30 seconds to let me know what you think, and what I can do to improve, in this feedback form. Thank you!

Parents: if you have any questions (during the streams or in between) please don't hesitate to contact me at qmacro+codeathome@gmail.com.

It's super important for us to stay at home right now, but that doesn't mean that we can't have some fun learning together online. If you have kids at home and want to give them a break from school work at the kitchen table, and they fancy learning a bit of programming for beginners, then this Code at Home idea might be helpful.

Who I am

First, a bit about who I am.

My name's DJ Adams and I live in Woodhouses, Failsworth, in Manchester. I am proud to work for SAP as a developer advocate, and I feel supported by them in this endeavour. I have a short bio page here: qmacro.org/about. I've been involved with teaching kids to code for a good while now, and you can read more about that down below.

The idea

The idea is that school children who are stuck at home can take part in some coding for beginners, by connecting to YouTube and joining a "Code at Home" live stream that I'll broadcast on a regular basis at a fixed time in the day, for an hour. I don't have this all planned out, I'm just going to start it and see how it goes and would welcome input from anyone. What I do know is that I want it to be approachable and for beginners, where the age range is around 11 and up.

Code at Home

We'll be learning basic programming together using the most popular language out there (by some measurements) - JavaScript, and we'll be starting off by using some simple problems from the Project Euler website. Here's problem number 1, titled "Multiples of 3 and 5", to give you an idea:

If we list all the natural numbers below 10 that are multiples of 3 or 5, we get 3, 5, 6 and 9. The sum of these multiples is 23. Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000.

The plan is that we'll use each hour to solve little problems like this, by writing code in JavaScript.

Here are some questions and answers that hopefully will tell you what you need to know.

What's required?

To connect and join in, you'll need:

  • An Internet connection so that you can connect to and watch things on YouTube
  • A laptop or desktop, it doesn't matter whether it's a MacBook, a Windows machine or anything else
  • On that laptop or desktop you need a web browser, like Chrome. You don't need anything else specific to programming

If you want to enable your kids join in and type along during the live stream, and want to use the same setup as I'll be showing, sign up to the following two websites:

  • Project Euler - it's not completely necessary, but if you sign up then you can enter your own answers to the problems and see your progress
  • repl.it - this is a really nice coding environment online, that you can access and use from your web browser, and it's the one I will be using in the live stream sessions

Of course, if all you want to do is watch, that's fine and then you don't need anything other than your web browser. But it's fun to type the code in yourself on your own computer too and see the results.

How do we follow the schedule and get reminders?

I'll be broadcasting these Code at Home live streams on YouTube, on my channel at youtube.com/djadams-qmacro, so the simplest way is to head over to the channel, subscribe, and there you'll be able to see the upcoming Code at Home live stream episodes.

If you miss an actual live stream, don't worry, because they're all automatically recorded and made available on YouTube.

When and how often is this happening?

I'll start out by doing this regularly from 15:30 to 16:30 (UK time). This is so that any school work at home can be completed and out of the way during the day first.

I'll do the first one this coming Friday 27 March - and have set up the live stream ready on my YouTube channel, so you can set a reminder for it.

What will it be like?

On the live streams I'll be sharing my screen, showing the problem we're looking at solving, and showing what I'm typing in the repl.it website. There'll also be a little "picture-in-picture" of me on the camera. To get a rough idea, here's a still from last Friday's episode of another (more technical) live stream series that I run (called "Hands-on SAP dev with qmacro", which is for the SAP development and technical community):

still from Hands-on SAP dev

I definitely encourage you parents to join too if you can, so you can satisfy yourself that this is something that might help. Perhaps you can help with the setup too.

More information on me

I used to run a CodeClub at the Woodhouses Village School, I have been a volunteer at Manchester CoderDojo at MadLab and also at the Sharp Project in Newton Heath.

Here's a pic of me giving a Scratch session at Manchester CoderDojo:

Underwater Scratch

I'm a STEM Ambassador who has given sessions at schools including Xaverian Sixth Form College, I've given a session at TEDx Oldham on Our Computational Future (making the argument for teaching our kids to code).

I've also helped out as a mentor at MadLab in Manchester during the Young Rewired State (YRS) events. Here's a still of me from the video about our activities for YRS 2013:

still from YRS 2013 video

OK, what's the next step?

Head on over to the channel on YouTube, get set up for the first one and be ready to connect to the live stream this coming Friday 27 March. Here's the YouTube link for that first live stream episode: https://youtu.be/X7gtbWiHTBY.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Twitter (my handle is @qmacro) where I'd be more than happy to try and answer them.

Also, bookmark this blog post to be able to come back to it at a later date, in case there are updates I have added, with extra information, a change in schedule, things like that.

Please also wish me luck - while I've taught kids to code in many contexts, and I've live streamed in my professional life, I've never combined the two. I want this to be helpful in these trying times, and for that I will need your help too.Thanks!