Just finish high school and trying to decide what to do? Or maybe already in college and that English Literature major with a minor in Women's Studies just isn’t working out for you? Bored with your current job and want to do something different? Are you retired and thinking that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be?
Whatever your reasons for thinking about engaging the world of computer programming, there are a ton of resources out there to learn. Even the most basic beginner can learn! Read more to learn about my top 5 picks for free computer programming Web sites.
Top 5 “How to Code” Web sites
1. Khan Academy – completely free and so very basic! Great for the beginner. Listen, watch and DO!
2. The Little Introduction To Programming – this is more of a “book” than an interactive tutorial, but still a great place for beginners!
3. Treehouse – another great source for beginners.
4. Wikiversity – excellent resource for the visual learner – lots of text and diagrams.
5. Eli the Computer Guy – great for audio learners! Eli’s video is on YouTube and he talks you through it all.
Learn the basics, take some other beginner courses and then be sure to check out the more advanced enterprise-level courses that Mindteck Academy offers that give you the footing you need to break in to the wonderful world of software development!
I remember being in 1st grade and seeing a large poster board display in my classroom, full of shiny, sticky stars – red, gold, blue, green, silver – and these stars indicated something important! They indicated to everyone who dared to look at it who had read the most books in the class. Little six and seven year-olds staring at the row of stars next to their names, wondering how they would be able to squeeze in about 11 more books in one week to catch up with Susie Smartypants (well, at least I did…not so sure the rest of my 1st grade comrades were quite as honed in on the competition!) Little did I know it was my first exposure to the infamous Leaderboard!
For those of you who have never been in a sales position or, you know, ANY type of competition, a Leaderboard is essentially a score board that everyone can see. If you’re at the top of the board, you’re winning…everyone else is essentially losing. Pretty motivating right? Nope. Not so much.
In 5th grade, my teacher had the class play a card game that was designed to teach all of us genius 10 and 11 year-olds how the feudal system worked. The game was designed to separate the class into three groups – the nobility (rich people), the knights (working class) and the peasants. It was such an unfair game! Once you hit nobility status, all of the rules were in your favor, making it easier and easier to stay in the high class. You even got to make up all of the rules after a while! Contrarily, once you wound up in the peasant class, it was almost impossible to get out! I watched my classmates in the lower class start to look deflated; they were frowning, sitting at their desks defeated, and I think at least one person cried. This “game” was incredibly motivating to those of at the top (until we started to feel bad for our friends) and downright destructive to those at the bottom. I don’t know a whole lot about feudal societies, but I do recall the amazing lesson in empathy and psychological warfare.
Stars, feudal systems and leaderboards. Keeping score. Winners and losers. This is ok if you are in the World Series, Super Bowl, or Wimbledon. Other than that, it can be demotivating in the classroom. And it’s doing the same thing in our workplaces.
So what is all this buzz about “gamification.” What is it, exactly? Pinball? Pac Man? Mario Brothers? Minecraft?? Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. It taps into the basic desires and needs of the users impulses which revolve around the idea of Status and Achievement. Rewards such as Badges and Points are used to elevate Status by showcasing the talents, expertise, and accomplishments.
A good “gamified” training or learning module needs to understand people’s motivations to be effective. For the competitive over-achiever, public displays of progress, sales, points, etc., can be excellent drivers for increased performance! However, for those with different motivational styles, this approach can backfire and create the exact opposite effect. Programs that use rewards, badges, buttons and points are probably best used where they are awarded to the individual once he/she completes or masters a task, but not shared with the whole group in a competitive manner. In my book, anything that makes learning fun and keeps the learners engaged gets a thumbs up from me!
Lots of companies, big and small, have hiring initiatives in place focused on hiring military veterans. Amazon, Cintas, DaVita, Dollar General, General Electric, Progressive, Sears, and Sprint are just a few household names that are ranked as “Best Veteran Employers” on military.com. Other notable companies with strong veteran programs are Deloitte, Highmark and Hewlett-Packard; they all have major HR initiatives to honor and hire our military veterans.
2014 was labeled “The Year of the Veteran” and The U.S. Chamber of Commerce routinely holds popular “Hiring Our Heroes” job fair events all across the country! So why does the unemployment rate of veterans who served post 9/11 hover around 2-3% higher than the national average? How can this be?
Veterans bring a wealth of character to the human capital table! Leadership, teamwork, efficiency, respect and integrity are just the beginning of what they have to offer. They come with built in soft skills that every employer should die for! When surveyed, employers cited things such as “work ethic”, “dependability, “team-orientated”, and “works well under pressure” in their top 10 desired skills in their hires. Now, I have never personally served in the military, but I’m pretty sure you can’t survive on day in the military, let alone a tour of duty in a foreign country, without these skills embedded in you!
So this brings us back to the question – WHY aren’t these younger veterans finding jobs? The answer appears to be fear. And I’m not talking about fear on the side of the soldier – I’m talking about fears of the employers. What are they afraid of? In addition to a general concerns over skills mismatch (“nothing they did in the military relates to the jobs we have”), many admit to being concerned about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Some hiring managers are afraid that their newly hired vet might one day just “snap.” Many Vietnam War era vets suffered from this, but unfortunately, it went unrecognized for many years. It is such a real mental health affliction that the U.S Department of Veteran Affairs even houses the “National Center for PTSD.” While PTSD is real, and affects people of all races, color and socioeconomic background, it is now very, very treatable. Using this as a gauge to determine someone’s eligibility for hire and viability as an employee is just as discriminatory as perceiving that someone “might” be diabetic. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) clearly states, “Employers cannot fire or choose not to hire a qualified person now because they fear the worker will become too ill to work in the future. The hiring decision must be based on how well the individual can perform at the present time.” Let’s give our honorable veterans that same protection under the law to which everyone else is entitled.